Do You Need Full or Part Time Mentoring?
2001, Barry Sweeny

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Generally, at the start of a new mentoring program, people do not consider this question. In fact, most mature mentoring programs never seriously consider this question. However, the possibilities and reasons for such consideration are many and everyone should consider it.

Part Time Mentoring:

Typically, mentoring is one more "duty as assigned" which is simply added on top of all the work of a mentor's existing, full time responsibilities. When that happens, the time for mentoring is either borrowed from other tasks, which are then dealt with after hours, or the time for mentoring is pretty minimal, and so are the resulting mentoring experience and benefits for the protege.

Eventually, programs that expect greater results from mentoring must face this question and realize they must provide the daily, job-embedded professional time needed to adequately carry out existing responsibilities and to effectively mentor someone. Solutions range from reducing the mentor's own work load, simplifying the challenges of that work, paying a stipend for the after-hours work time required to allow mentoring during the day, and other creative adjustments.

Full Time Mentoring:

It may seem to be too costly to even consider full time mentoring, yet many organizations have found ways to do exactly that. When they have, these organizations have captured many of the results they expected AND they have discovered a ton of unanticipated benefits for full time mentors. In fact, the trend is beginning to move more and more toward this solution.

Almost always and in every kind of setting and organization, there are multiple initiatives underway to drive improvements in employee performance and bottom line results. Here are some examples:

Each one of these individual but critical initiatives must be addressed, and each is probably crying out for more time to address it adequately. The question here really is, how many initiatives must there be before an organization will decide that more time is needed if performance and results are be to improved? When THAT happens, consider full time mentoring to support all those initiatives.

Finding Resources to Support Dedicated Mentoring Time

This complex mix of initiatives has a direct impact on how mentoring is defined and what is expected of the mentoring experience. However, this very complexity ALSO creates some terrific opportunities. For example:

For example, new teacher mentoring and induction can be partially supported by technology, literacy, math-science, and other professional growth initiatives which have money because the mentors will spend a good share of their time helping new teachers with those same specific areas of need.

In other words, full time mentoring can be supported by discovering ways in which mentoring can serve the multiple existing agendas of the organization, in fact, the very areas of need for growth by the protégés in that organization.

The Factors to Consider in Full or Part Time Mentoring

Part Time Mentor & Full Work Load

Part Time Mentoring & Partial Work Release

Full Time Mentoring

Problems finding substitutes to release mentors from work & cover for them when they are gone to help the protégé

Mentor or protégé release is disruptive of work schedules and flow

Few opportunities to coach for performance and results improvement

Limited time for all mentor tasks means that some needed activities are not done

Minimal protégé and mentor professional growth occurs
Reduced work load for mentor (and protégé?)

Minimizes cost & disruption to mentor's own work

Increased opportunity to coach on the job & improve performance & results

Mentors can give time needed to accelerate protégé growth

A good balance between cost & results is achieved
Most expensive option

Mentors develop high impact mentoring skills so mentoring effectiveness soars

Greatest improvement in employee performance and results

Eliminates disruptions to mentor's own work & the problems of "covering" that work

Grows positive leadership to improve results

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© 2004, by Barry Sweeny, Best Practice Resources, 26 W 413 Grand Ave. Wheaton, IL 60187

630-668-2605, Cell 630-842-2991, email and web site at <>.