Protégé & Mentor Orientation & Support

By: Silvia L. Martini
February 2, 2015

© Silvia Martini, 2015. Not to be copied or used without the express written permission of Silvia Martini.

INTRODUCTION

Dedicated toward entrepreneurial business development and sustainable success, participants of the Raj Manek Mentorship Program (RMMP) benefit from an integrated program of activities that are strongly supported through business-to-business mentorship. Within this program, a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable entrepreneur helps to guide another business entrepreneur wishing to seek knowledge toward enhancing their business success.

The person offering the expertise and knowledge within the RMMP program is termed the "Mentor"; the individual receiving mentorship is referred to as the "Protégé". This term "Protégé" within the context of the RMMP is intended to be gender neutral, and for the purpose of this document means: "protégé" (male), "protégée" (female), and "mentee".

Mentoring is a process made possible by a solid foundation of earned trust, respect and professionalism between the mentor and protégé, ideally resulting in a mutually beneficial and valued exchange. Through a trusted and meaningful relationship, the protégé is guided and supported (in thought process and discussions), with a focus on entrepreneurial commercial success.

"Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."
- Samuel Johnson, The Rambler

Within the RMMP, each protégé is matched for one year with a mentor selected on the basis on "best match" for goals, needs and personality. Once matched, the mentor and protégé meet, discuss goals and jointly decide on appropriate meeting location, frequency and mode of contact. Wherever possible, mentors will be in a similar industry to the protégé, but never in direct competition to avoid conflict of interest.

The culture of sharing knowledge and life-long learning is one that is well supported and nurtured in the program. To date, the RMMP has sponsored more than 300 years of mentorship relationships, with high annual success rates. Many mentors have participated in the beginning years as protégés and have since become mentors. There have also been occasions when mentors with a focus on a new business endeavor have entered the program as protégés.

The following sections offer some helpful guidance toward developing an understanding of mentorship, and toward aligning efforts to best outcomes within the RMMP, and a rewarding relationship between the mentor and protégé.

THE RMMP MENTORSHIP TEAM

The Raj Manek Mentorship Program's value and benefit are delivered primarily through business-to-business mentorship. This is accomplished through a supported relationship between the mentor and protégé, one that is specifically directed to assist the protégé as they address their goals for entrepreneurial success. Based on trust and with respect, the mentorship relationship's main focus is on the protégé, and on their learning and growth.

The Mentor is an individual who has core experience and shares their knowledge with one who will benefit from this knowledge. The mentor is both a role model and guide, encouraging, supporting and creating a comfortable learning environment for their protégé. In an arms-length relationship, they share their knowledge and experience, and challenge their protégé by asking probing questions toward new thought processes and successful outcomes.

As with all positive relationships, there is mutual benefit; mentors also gain new insights from their protégés, and are able to feel the immense gratification of seeing and celebrating their protégé's entrepreneurial success. In the best cases, the relationship transcends past the mentorship term into one of deep gratitude, friendship and mutual respect.

The Mentor:

  1. Is a guide toward entrepreneurial success, and not a friend or a contractor of services

  2. Shares their knowledge and entrepreneurial experience with their protégé

  3. Learns as much as necessary about the protégé's business, and industry to be of guidance

  4. Provides a positive environment where helpful feedback is provided, and wherein inquiries are posed

  5. Respects confidentiality at all times

  6. Prepares specific goals for the relationship with the protégé

  7. Recommends (where applicable) and engages in reflective discussions with their protégé, toward their defining and achieving specific stated , and agreed upon goals

  8. Directs protégé to another mentor if the help needed is not in mentor's area of expertise

  9. Facilitates networking and introductions toward goal achievement

  10. Inspects, monitors, reviews, critiques and discusses potential actions

  11. Tracks progress, and encourage protégé to use a progress report to identify issues

  12. Limits responsibility, understanding that they are responsible to their protégé, and not for their protégé.

  13. Promotes autonomy and encourages independence from the relationship of mentor/protégé

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."
- Plutarch

The RMMP Protégé is an entrepreneur with some business experience, seeking knowledge toward ensuring a successful and sustainable business. They assume the responsibilities for their professional and personal growth and development, and have come to the RMMP; highly motivated and empowered toward their entrepreneurial success. They embrace the peer-to-peer networking, and the opportunities to meet other mentors and business leaders. They find beneficial the professional development materials, events and workshops, and gain a value-added benefit by their cross learning with other participants of the program.

The protégé:

  1. Challenges themselves to grow

  2. Provides their mentor with helpful background information on the business, and their previous business experience

  3. Accepts full responsibility for the ultimate decision-making and success or failure of the business

  4. Appreciates that the mentor is a role model and guide, and not a friend or a provider of services in the relationship

  5. Maintains a high level of professionalism, respect, confidentiality and trust

  6. Initiates contact and schedules meetings with the mentor

  7. Arrives at the meetings with a prepared agenda, understanding the objectives of the meeting

  8. Creates a focused and realistic plan with the mentor

  9. Follows up on agreed upon actions, tracks progress and reports back to mentor

  10. Participates in at least 90% of the RMMP functions and professional development sessions.


The RMMP Coordinator provides an important service that facilitates the success of the mentorship relationship, and the additional learning opportunities of the protégé. Their function to the mentorship team includes:

  1. Recruiting, selecting and matching the mentors to the protégés

  2. Preparing and conducting orientation programs

  3. Coordinating the professional development programs, business-to-business networking events and fundraisers

  4. Being a valuable contact for issues that may arise for the mentor and/or protégé in the relationship

  5. Record keeping for the program

  6. Facilitating program evaluation, making recommendations to the Advisory Board for improvement

  7. Remaining current on mentorship knowledge, professional development and issues

THE RMMP MENTOR/PROTÉGÉ TERM

The Raj Manek Mentorship Program has a one-year term, with the option for renewal. There are two intakes per year, with the first intake beginning in March and the second in September; . If a protégé misses the deadline of applying in either intake or has not been matched with a mentor in the intake month, they are slotted in the next intake. During this time, it is expected that the mentor and protégé will discuss goals and establish a strategy and time-line; they will define expectations of each other, and establish evaluation points at pre-determined intervals. Adjustments are made as needed, and deemed beneficial.

"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."
- Robert Frost

As part of its role, the RMMP is a facilitator, matching mentor to the assessed needs of the protégé, endeavouring a "best match". The program also provides scheduled networking and professional development opportunities wherein the participants of the program can meet with other, and the business community.

The RMMP provides screening and undertakes its due diligence to ensure a potential successful match between the protégé and the prospective mentor. It is, however, the responsibility of the mentor and protégé to decide and agree between them on whether the professional relationship between them will proceed. The RMMP is pleased to facilitate and provide assistance as possible, for questions and concerns that may arise from time to time between the mentor and protégé. It is understood, however, that the mentor/protégé relationship is considered separate from that of their respective individual relationships their respective with the RMMP. The RMMP is not responsible or liable for the outcomes of this relationship, or for any damages that may occur within or from the result of this relationship.

BUILDING A MEANINGFUL AND TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP

Quality relationship building incorporates respect, interest, empathy, and courtesy. Cultivating these qualities throughout the relationship, demonstrates a commitment to success. Engaging in dialogue within areas of concern or query, asking questions that enhance learning and insight toward personal growth and understanding, and coming to a place where one can challenge existing mindsets with respect and trust will encourage greater learning.

APPRECIATING DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES: Introversion/extroversion; cultural traditions and values; differing demographic characteristics; gender communication styles; personality types - the list is long of the variations that help make us unique and assists us in processing the world into relative perspectives. A dialogue between the mentor and protégé toward understanding each other's unique characteristics and needs will support a stronger communication bridge to facilitate more meaningful outcomes in the relationship.

Some simple questions to explore differing perspectives with each other include:

  1. Within which demographic do you fall? How do you source your information, and like to receive it?

    1. A Traditionalist: (1925-1945)

    2. Baby Boomers: (1946-1964)

    3. Gen X-ers: (1965-1980)

    4. Gen "Y" – Millennials (1981 – 2001)

  2. Please share with me some of your cultural customs and values, and how these translate into your business model and decision-making?

  3. If there is knowledge of the personality types of the mentor and protégé, such as one sees with the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, one can gain a better understanding of the differences in the respective perception styles. This will help to also facilitate more effective communication and quality time together.

"If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone."
- John Maxwell

DEVELOPING A PLAN: It is prudent that the first meeting be one of getting to know one another – an icebreaker meeting, and to build a framework for the relationship. An agenda might include:

1) Confidentiality – agreement of confidentiality framework.

2) Conflict of Interest – agreement regarding what constitutes "conflict of interest", and how it will be addressed.

3) Disclosure and Transparency – what is important to know, and what is off limits for information and topics

4) Sharing stories:

a. Share stories about the milestones in your respective businesses and lives.

b. How has the protégé's experience changed over the initial vision for the business, and its current reality?

c. What key lessons have been learned?

d. What are some of the greatest challenges that are preventing the protégé from meeting their planned goals?

e. What does the protégé see as their core strengths, and challenges?

f. What would the protégé consider to be success at the end of the mentorship year?

5) Framing Contact:

a. Sharing of contact information

b. Confirming that the protégé will set the meetings

c. Frequency of face-to-face meetings

d. Date and times of meetings

e. Location of meetings

f. Methods of communication and response times i.e., e-mails, phone calls, text messages, etc.

g. Tracking and record keeping of actions and progress

6) Other:

Following this meeting, and upon being able to reflect upon the information shared, it is recommended that the mentor and protégé for their second meeting:

Have a site visit of the business,

Discuss the situational analysis,

Define a vision for the mentorship/protégé period,

Develop a strategic approach including goals, tactical/action items and execution time frames.

Agree on a tracking progress for action items, and

Maintain a confidential record on progress.

SIGNS OF DYSFUNCTION: All plans start with good intention. There are times, however, that the best-laid plans derail. The following provide some signs that this may be occurring. If so, it is prudent to have a meeting to discuss the situation. Should this not be an issue that can be easily resolved between the mentor and the protégé, the RMMP Coordinator is a valuable resource:

Meetings are being cancelled, and not being rescheduled;

You are not meeting as planned, or regularly;

There is a lack of meeting agendas, and no issues or objectives are being addressed;

No actions from past discussions are moving forward or being addressed;

Protégé is asking the mentor to solve the problems, rather than give guidance;

Mentor has not been invited to the protégé's business;

The Mentor does not understand the protégé's business;

The relationship is not "trustworthy", or not progressing due to lack of disclosure and sharing.

CODE OF CONDUCT AND CODE OF ETHICS

Code of Conduct for Mentors

By participating in the Raj Manek Mentorship Program as a volunteer mentor, I agree to abide by the Code of Conduct as specified in this Mentor guide, and if I violate any rule of the Code of Conduct for Mentors, the Raj Manek Mentorship may discontinue my participation in the Program.

1. Confidentiality

As per the agreement signed by my protégé and me, I shall not disclose to any third party any personal details of my communications with my Protégé without prior permission of my Protégé.

2. Communication

"Communications" refers to communications via any media, including in-person, phone, mail, photographs, voice-mail, audio conferencing, video conferencing, audio recordings, video recordings, e-mail, electronic text messaging, computer files supplied on physical media or transferred electronically. I shall not use offensive language, nor transmit offensive images including but not limited to:

a) Profanity or verbal abuse directed towards the Protégé;

b) Sexually suggestive comments directed towards the Protégé;

c) Derogatory remarks directed towards any individual based on religion, race, color and ethnicity, country of origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or sexual identity; and

d) Images that are sexually suggestive, rude, or pornographic, or include offensive language

3. Availability

I shall be available for my protégé as per the agreement signed by my protégé and me. If I cannot meet my protégé for a previously arranged meeting due to circumstances beyond my control, I will inform my protégé accordingly and reschedule the meeting.

4. Topics for Discussion.

If my Protégé expresses unwillingness, reluctance, or discomfort in discussing any topic that I have raised, I shall promptly cease to pursue that topic.

5. Meetings

I understand that it will be the responsibility of my protégés to initiate in-person meetings. If my protégé does not wish to meet in person, I shall not insist on a meeting.

6. Advice

I fully understand that I am a business mentor to my protégé, and I will refrain from giving any other advice even if my protégés seeks my advice. As well, I will refrain from providing advice on business topics in which I have little or no knowledge. In this case, I will contact the Program Coordinator to arrange a meeting with an advisor in the particular area that my protégé needs advice.

7. Business Relationships

I shall not pursue a business relationship with my Protégé in which my Protégé derives no benefit from the business relationship, and I shall not request my protégé to provide services without compensation.

8. Personal Relationships

I shall not pursue a sexual or romantic relationship with my Protégé.

9. Fees 

I have agreed to participate in the Raj Manek Mentorship Program as a volunteer; therefore I shall not charge my Protégé any fees during the period of our mentorship.

10. Duty to Report Code Violations

If I observe my protégé behaving in a manner that violates the Raj Manek Code of Conduct for Protégés, I shall promptly report my observations to the Program Coordinator.

HELPFUL RESOURCES:

http://manekmentorship.sk.ca/Resources/Toolkit/Other-Resources

Cited Works & References

BMI – The Mentor & Protégé Handbook.(Nov. 4, 2014)

The Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program 2014-2015. Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan.

TalentC. Mentor-Mentee Training – Level One. March 2011.

Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship. (Nov. 4, 2014)

Silvia Martini, Vice-President – Interlink Research Inc., is a Director of the Board for the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, and past Chair of its Governance and past member of its Executive Committees. She is a director of the Board for the SaskWater Corp., a Crown Investment Corporation. She is a member of its Governance Committee. In business since 1982, she is a strategist and entrepreneur, consultant, writer and speaker. Silvia can be reached at martini.interlink@sasktel.net, or at (306) 281-9019.

Copyright 2014. S.L. Martini. Interlink Research Inc. martini.interlink@sasktel.net