Be it in an advanced market or an emerging region there is always a need to help communicators get better at what they do. While training initiatives and workshops can provide a bit of learning the much needed boost that every communicator can do with is often within every communication forum.
If you have wondered how to tackle a complex communication challenge or unclear on how to deal with a tough internal customer having a mentor works wonderfully well. Unfortunately, very few communication forums have a formal mentorship program that taps the power of seasoned professionals to impart guidance and insights.
In various conversations with communication leaders concerns such as the dwindling talent pool and low understanding of the domain are often raised. If you are looking at talent for your team or if you belong to an external communication group where knowledge sharing is usually discussed,this need is even more pronounced.
I recently discussed and proposed a plan to leverage the vast knowledge and experience of communication leaders in the region and there seems to be positive intent to move forward. My submission is that every seasoned communicator must be able to spare an hour a month to give back to the wider community – either by mentoring others from the fraternity or teaching skills to students in communication schools. To me, this is probably the easiest and most effective way to grow the talent pool of communicators while making it personal and truly relevant.
If you run a communication forum in your region or are a part of a group that has a similar need you can look up the framework below to craft a suitable initiative. Do let me know how it goes. Happy to discuss further to make it work right.
Putting the initiative on track
Since entry into the communication function is often unstructured (especially in this region) and many professionals are unclear on how to grow in their respective roles – having an initiative that maps seasoned communication leaders with budding professionals who need guidance can make a world of difference. What you however need is the time and focus from both the mentor and the mentee to stay honest and committed.
Find an approach that works for all
To make this program a success and easily accessible for the wider community it is best run by a third party entity – ideally an industry body. This lends credibility to the program and dissuades conversations on transparency and confidentiality concerns. Look for an industry body which is reputed and can spare the time and space to manage the process of enrollment – either online and offline.
Make the process and discussions transparent
It is important to define what constitutes mentoring and who is eligible and when. If your forum’s members see it as a need they must share how it will benefit them in the long term and how they can in turn become mentors when they grow as professionals. Keep the mentors and mentees honest about their commitments. Ideally, publish the list of mentors and mentees on say your forum’s Linkedin page and request that they feed in their progress to the wider community. There will always be lessons which others can gain from. Do discuss how they can avoid sharing confidential information which might crop up during discussions. You can awards points based on their contribution and feedback and they in turn can leverage those points to increase their knowledge even further – attending forums, webinars on the subjects of their choice.
Publish the benefits and crowdsource solutions to common challenges
Seek testimonials from the group and share it widely. It is the responsibility of the mentee to plan the interaction and share how it is adding value. Participants can also post questions and seek answers online to communication challenges they face and can expect responses from leaders. Ensure all participants know that it isn’t an initiative for job searching or networking.
Monitor progress and tweak the program accordingly
Limit a mentoring partnership to about 6 months and gauge the value and impact by conducting a short survey. Make tweaks based on feedback and measures that participants feel will add most value. Recognize the best mentors at your annual awards program.
What do you think?