As CEO of an organization working to fuel the movement of quality mentoring in Massachusetts, our team comes across mentoring programs implementing new and innovative ways to strengthen mentoring relationships and their program all the time. These efforts are critical in ensuring that mentoring doesn’t just look and feel good but produces measurable outcomes on behalf of the young people involved. That is why when I look at research in the field of mentoring, I look at it through a practitioner’s lens so that I can see what implications it has for the over 200 programs we work with across the state. In reviewing the Martin and Sifers research, “An Evaluation of Factors Leading to Mentor Satisfaction with the Mentoring Relationship” (2012), it is clear that mentor satisfaction is a critical component of leading to long lasting and outcome oriented mentoring relationships. As programs, it is essential that the implementation of this research focus on ways to promote, support and guide the mentor in helping him or her feel confident, prepared and engaged in the relationship.
Providing potential mentors with the right tools and knowledge empowers them to become more successful and satisfied in their mentoring relationships. At Mass Mentoring, we are in contact with programs using a variety of strategies to give mentors those tools and the necessary knowledge to be successful. Strategies include requiring mentors to attend 6 to 8hours of pre match training before becoming a mentor, providing ongoing training opportunities including a focus on critical issues facing youth and the community, providing mentor networking opportunities for professional development and providing ongoing and consistent match support throughout the relationship. Programs are also using creative means to reach the hard to reach mentor including eLearning trainings and use of social media to provide content, support and knowledge sharing. Training continues to be an important part of preparing everyone for the mentoring relationship and programs continue to look for new and innovative ways to reach all parties involved to set clear and manageable expectations. This research confirms something that mentoring programs know well which is that mentors who are more satisfied and who are more prepared for the relationship are more likely to stay in them and grow them ultimately developing stronger bonds for the young person.
As the leader of an organization that works to support and develop mentoring programs, we know how important mentor training and support is to the success of their efforts. We are eager to help programs look for new and accessible ways to reach their mentors with this knowledge and to ensure that training and development is not just a pre-match operation but something that must be implemented throughout the entire relationship. There are lots of tools and resources that can support programs, including organizations like Mass Mentoring, but it all starts with a program making training and development a top priority in ensuring effective mentoring relationships last and produce real measurable outcomes.