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Running a successful design mentorship program. Part 2.

In Part 1 of this article, we touched upon some of the challenges that mentorship programs in general, and design mentorships in particular, face.

Firstly, mentors, protégés and the organization have the right motivation in engaging in the program. Secondly the results have to be meaningful to all three of them.

Secondly we looked at the structure of the program. Do we just put people along together and hope they get along? Or can there be a better way to find matches within the organization.

Thirdly, expectations have to be set right. As explained earlier if mentors and protégés see the assignment as a precursor to a promotion it can be a disaster when expectations are not met. The organization needs to spend some time on getting this right.

The fourth and one of the most important factors is the actual culture of the organization. Organizational cultures are well explained in the book, ‘Tribal Leadership‘ by David Logan.

Level 3 cultures as described in the book have employees who believe- “I am right… And you are wrong” Having such an attitude can be caustic for a mentorship program even before it begins.

It helps for the mentor to have a level of empathy in what the protégé is going through. But more importantly there needs to be a desire to be of help.

Firstly it helps to get an emotional resonance by engaging in competitive activities like protégé presentations or competitions where the mentor can see first hand some of the challenges the protégé faces.

Next in what way will the mentor come in to assist the problems faced is also important. Can they provide feedback or lead by example?

Also when it comes to design mentorship the two have to be actively involved is a number of projects that have definite outcomes. And these projects are not executed in a month. So the most important aspect of a mentorship program is time.

The two have to commit at least a year for things to work out and for the protégé to imbue all that he or she can learn.

Finally mentors are not born that way. You become a good mentor by having a good one under whom you learn. Or through practice. Mentors themselves need other mentors who can train them on being better mentors.

So you can see, investing in a mentorship program is not about putting a couple of people together and hoping things work out.

However, if some of the above points are considered then you might end up with much better results on your mentorship programs. And they will certainly work out.

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