How to be a Successful Professional Mentor with Job Seekers with Developmental Disabilities

By Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Supervisor, REENA

In the context of the workplace, mentors can provide employees with support and encouragement, introduce you to new people and as well as offer career advice and information on how to navigate the workplace. A mentor can be a professional at work or from other industries. You can find a mentor through informal ways (a colleague, a friend, or manager at work) or from mentoring programs in the community. In addition to promoting good corporate social responsibility in your company and helping a mentee succeed, mentors can hone a diverse array of invaluable skills and experiences in: leadership, adult education/teaching, communication, listening, networking, diversity awareness, and coaching.

Below are some suggestions on how to be an effective mentor so that you and your mentee can benefit:

  1. Time Commitment – Being organized is key to a successful experience. In your first meeting, you can decide on the logistics of the relationship in advance – when to meet, what time, the frequency and location. Treat the relationship as a business meeting. If you can’t meet face-to-face, then use alternative means of communicating such as Skype or Zoom andor the telephone. Check in regularly with your mentee. This helps with keeping the mentee motivated and engaged as well as building trust.
  2. Goals Clarification – At the beginning, set the goals in writing and make sure you are both in agreement with the goals and actions. This is a business and professional relationship. Each time you check in together, review the goals and their status. Make sure there is movement and that the mentee understands the goals and implements the advice and strategies that you are recommended.
  3. Teaching by Example – Mentees can benefit from the wisdom of experience, skills and expertise of the mentors. Ask the mentee to prepare questions and an agenda before each meeting and send it to you in advance. Time permitting, you can take turns doing this as a way to model this action, an important task of the workplace. Consider giving the mentee an assignment before or after each meeting. For example, preparatory reading materials from your organization, from a relevant website or video clips from YouTube.
  4. Coaching Resources – There is an abundance of resources for mentors and on topics related to leadership skills, coaching, advising, consulting and mentoring from social media, video clips and even the library. If you are part of a mentoring program with your company (or externally), the coach will have access to resources to support the goals.
  5. You are not alone – Let your employer know that you are a mentor. Some companies recognize and support this volunteering at the workplace or in the community and even have a program in place for this experience. Touching base with other mentor volunteers is a great way to problem-solve and network. It’s a business relationship first and foremost.

If you have any questions, and/or would like help with diversity hiring recruitment, or Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, please contact Joanna Samuels, jsamuels@reena.org

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