Developing and Maintaining Effective Mentoring Relationships in the Business Leadership Program
A Manual for Mentors and Students
Mentors help students in many ways. Mentors give advice and constructive feedback on students' work and behavior, as well as formal and informal instruction (on organizational politics as well as technical information). Mentors provide introductions to contacts inside their own organizations as well as outside contacts. They also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and enhance their skills.
Mentors gain tremendous satisfaction from contributing to the development of outstanding young people. They also meet potential employees and evaluate their capabilities in an informal relationship. There are opportunities to meet other mentors and enhance one's network of successful business people. Lastly, many mentors appreciate the occasion to indirectly "pay back" their own mentors for help received earlier in their career.
Students gain invaluable first-hand insights from professionals who share their time and experiences with them. Students have access to companies and guest speakers (see appendix) and an opportunity to develop a close professional relationship with an executive in a local business, nonprofit corporation, or government agency.
The following mentoring objectives are most often mentioned by students:
- To gain real business world exposure, connections, and insights regarding real-life business situations, concerns, and issues.
- To learn about their mentor's job, business, or industry.
- To acquire information on business functions (marketing, accounting, etc.)
- To learn business and management techniques.
- To obtain career advice and understanding.
- To apply and supplement textbook and classroom concepts.
- To develop business, social and political skills.
- To make contacts within the business community that will be potentially useful in selecting internships (all BLP students are required to complete an internship) or possible employment.
What Mentors Can Reasonably Expect From Students
When a student agrees to participate in the BLP mentor program, a mentor can expect him or her to:
- Meet with the mentor as often as schedules permit. The minimum to keep the relationship productive seems to be once a month during the academic year, but groups can meet more often than that.
- Be considerate of the mentor's time. Return phone calls or e-mail messages promptly. Be on time. Attend all scheduled meetings. Come to each meeting with a prepared agenda.
- Suggest topics to be discussed at mentor meetings.
- Keep commitments made to the mentor.
- Make suggestions for companies they would like to visit.
Ask the mentor for suggestions or advice.
- Keep confidences between the two of them.
- Work out any minor concerns about the relationship.
What Students Can Reasonably Expect From Mentors
At the same time, it is reasonable for the student to expect the mentor to:
- Attend regular monthly meetings
- Provide sound advice on business and career-related concerns.
- Follow through on commitments.
- Keep confidences.
- Help resolve any conflicts that may arise.
- Be honest yet caring and diplomatic in feedback provided.
What the program expects of both mentors and students
- Hold at least six group meetings per school year (September, October, November, February, March, and April.) The average meeting time should be 1-2 hours.
- Publish and distribute (to mentor, students, and BLP director) brief minutes of each meeting within one week of that meeting. Minutes should cover: who attended, what happened at the meeting, the date, time, place, agenda and responsibilities for the next meeting (see p. 12).
- Alert the BLP Director immediately if it appears that the group is having problems (e.g., holding meetings, establishing goals and agendas, maintaining productive relationships, etc.).
The mentor and students should expect the BLP Director/Supporting faculty members to:
- Be available to them by phone (253.879.3153), in person, or, respond promptly to e-mail.
- Be a sounding board on the mentoring program and mentor-student relationships.
- Help resolve problems or conflicts.
- Reassign students to a different mentor if appropriate.
- Replace mentors who must leave the program for whatever reasons.
- Methods, techniques, and guidelines for brainstorming.
- The Quality Improvement Process
- Managing ethics in the corporation.
- Dealing with gender issues.
- Developing a business plan and starting a new business.
- Differing work environments and managerial styles.
- ‘Dos' and ‘don'ts' of behavior as an employee.
- How to teach/learn delegation
- The process of downsizing in a local firm to reduce costs and layers of management.
- Cultural differences between North American and international business persons.
- Cultural differences among employees within the United States.
- Review a best selling business book.
- Develop/critique student resumes.
- Exploring what entry-level positions are available in a particular field of business.
- How to go about getting a job in a particular field.
- How to market oneself.
- How to secure an internship.
- Internship opportunities available in the mentor's firm.
- Types of products/services and types of customers of the company.
- What are the operations/activities of specific departments within a company (e.g., marketing, finance, human resources, accounting, manufacturing, engineering, information systems/computers, etc.).
- Discuss mergers/acquisitions and divestment's made by the company
- Discussions of Assigned Readings (e.g., from The Wall Street Journal)
- Incentive pay programs
- Private vs. public ownership of a company
- Federal budget and tax issues
- Case Project Discussion
Each spring, sophomore students enroll in a marketing/management class. At the end of the semester the students in each mentor group must turn in a short, written case about a management or marketing problem. The mentor works with the students in the development of the case. The case can be one the mentor's organization is dealing with or one in some other organization. Students are expected to set up (with the mentor's help) and hold interviews with key people involved in the problem. The purpose of the case is to help students learn to diagnose and identify what the nature of the problem is as opposed to its symptoms. They are also expected to learn how to improve their analytic and interviewing skills. They are to suggest answers to the problems. It is hoped the mentor would encourage them to write an answer to the case in the spring semester, however, the class does not require this.
- Tour of other mentors' companies and a review of their products and services.
- Hold a combined meeting with another mentor group.
- Exchange meetings with another mentor.
- Visit "X" Bank. Discuss the general overview of the company, the operation of the various departments within the bank, and financial relationships to businesses.
- Visits to mentors' clients, ad agencies, accounting firms, bankers, attorneys, and vendors.
- Shadow the mentor for a day.
- Have a picnic at the mentor's home or elsewhere.
- Go bowling, play golf, go boating, etc., with the mentor.
- Combine a business-related activity (e.g., watching an educational video, discuss a reading assignment, etc.) with a fun activity such as going out for pizza, or having sodas and popcorn with the mentor.