The value of having a mentor in an individual's career success, as well as the success of companies and organizations, is well documented. Whether formal or informal, a mentor can help guide, advise, support, and encourage us as we move through our professional journeys. To help our Cooperative professionals find a mentor, facilitate effective mentoring relationships, and advocate for career development, NRECA offers the Mentoring Toolkit. This toolkit is a curated set of articles, videos, tools, and other resources focused on providing the foundations needed to understand the benefits of mentoring, how to be a good mentor or mentee, how to organize an effective mentoring relationship, and other guidance for achieving success.

There are many views on what mentoring is or is not. This article from the Association for Talent Development provides a good overview: AFT Article – Mentoring vs. Coaching

Finding a Mentor

Outside of a formal mentoring program hosted by your company or professional organization, finding a mentor can be a difficult task. The articles and videos below provide guidance and approaches to finding a mentor and establishing informal relationships with individuals who can support your career growth.

Specific Guidance for Mentors and Mentees

Although on the surface it seems that a mentoring relationship should be simple, taking a little time to understand your role will help achieve a greater chance of success in the relationship. A good Ted Talk was done by Kenneth Ortiz on How To Be A Good Mentor. Other articles prospective Mentors may find helpful are What The Best Mentors Do and Great Mentors Focus On The Whole Person, Not Just The Career, both published by Harvard Business Review.

As a mentee, many people may find it intimidating to approach a possible mentor without a good idea of what they are asking for, or how they achieve the most value from the mentoring relationship. A few articles that give guidance for making the most of your mentor's time are Top 10 Tips For Being A Good Mentee and How To Build A Great Relationship With A Mentor. The Ted Ideas article and corresponding video, Are You Mentorable also provide good perspectives on how to take full advantage of a mentoring relationship.

Once you have established your mentoring partnership, the following tools may be helpful. The Mentoring Relationship Planning Template (PDF) walks the mentoring pair through discussion exercises that help set ground rules for the relationship including defining roles, purpose, timeline, and meetings. The Goals Achievement Planning Template (PDF) helps the mentee think their high level goals and objectives that the mentor can assist them in achieving.

Nontraditional Approaches to Mentoring

The standard mentor/mentee structure of a mentoring relationship is, of course, not the only approach to mentoring. Some alternative approaches are explores in the Harvard Business Review articles Mentoring Teams and Reverse Mentoring. Peer-to-peer mentoring can also be an incredibly powerful tool for those looking for mentoring support without the paired structure. One approach is explored in this article on What Is A Mastermind Group.

NRECA has two formal mentorship programs available to members, the HR Mentoring Program and the Cooperative IT Mentoring Program. If you'd like to find out more about those programs, or have questions about mentoring in general, please reach out to the contacts below.

Desiree Dunham, HR Mentoring Program Director
Shawna Ryan, IT Mentoring Program Director