What skills to develop in mentors FIRST?

A group of professionals gather in the auditorium for training for mentors. One not young, with a tired expression on his face, a man, without enthusiasm in his voice, asks: “Well, what are you going to treat us for?”

Long recipe doesn’t mean good

Let’s look through his eyes at learning activities and concepts like pills, vitamins and injections. They are offered to mentors to accept for growing and strengthening didactic competencies. The traditional recipe looks like this in the form of a curriculum:

  • Assessment of the level of competencies of a student (trainee, ward, trainee, etc.)

  • Planning a training program

  • Building working relationships to improve the quality of communication with the student

  • Motivation to encourage the student to develop

  • SMART task setting

  • Learning skills, including coaching, coaching, the Kolb cycle

  • Feedback Skills

  • Features of adult education, the role of mentoring, the role of a mentor, the theory of generations, soft and hard skills … and many more different concepts, one way or another related to learning, communication, motivation.

If it was within the framework of a “spa treatment” for 3 weeks with a massage, then such a program would probably benefit. But the shock cognitive dose for 2-3 days of training is not absorbed and for the most part is rejected by mentors.

Even if you offer an on-line course on developing communication skills, motivation or feedback, you still will not be able to fully develop any of these skill groups.

First, to develop such complex skills, you need to repeat them repeatedly over a period of time.

Secondly, the mentor needs someone to give feedback on how he correctly performs the new action.

And thirdly, without motivation for development, people simply do not set themselves the goal of learning these skills. You probably know that about 60% of web courses generally remain incomplete.

How to be? How to prioritize the development of the competencies of those who will train staff within the company? We have identified 6 priorities based on the fact that useful “substances” must be given in doses, and not all at once.

Priority #1. Teach mentors the learning process

An experienced employee with excellent communications and personal qualities on the one hand and the inability to transfer experience on the other is not a mentor.

The main task of the mentor is to develop the labor skills of newcomers. The rest either contributes to this process or reduces its effectiveness. Therefore, first teach mentors how to organize the process of developing skills with their students. This block should be given the most time in the curriculum.

Additionally, you can teach techniques that increase the efficiency of transferring experience. For example, ways to visualize and remember information. This item is extremely rare in mentor training programs.

Priority #2. Do not take as mentors people with a bad character

Learning is a social process and involves interaction. If a person who knows his business does not have the skills of social behavior, i.e. he has a bad (toxic, aggressive, mean) character, then the interaction will not work.

A bad character is a disease that is not treated at all by any training and is diagnosed by the following behavioral signs:

  • not restraint and discontent for any reason

  • always negative mood

  • devaluation of universal human values

  • manifestation of lies, slander, misrepresentation of information, spreading gossip

  • arrogance, insult and ridicule of colleagues

  • shifting responsibility to others

  • extreme intolerance for errors

  • irritability, anger, irritability

In principle, such people should not be allowed to train specialists, and therefore be trained as mentors. They can successfully dig a hole, make wiring, work on a conveyor, but they can’t transfer experience at all.

Priority #3. Develop mentors only those competencies that they really need

Don’t waste time developing the communication and motivational skills of professionals who train interns for about a month and the work of the students is not related to people.

In most cases, mentors with a harsh (not bad) character, with a great prof. seniority and life experience do not perceive programs saturated with different concepts.

At short distances, if a professional helps a student quickly develop the necessary work skills, then problems with communication and motivation, as a rule, do not arise. The main thing is to teach mentors how to give feedback correctly. These competencies are an integral part of the skill development process.

Students and trainees, seeing rapid progress in their skills, most often try on the isolation, harshness, exactingness, and other uncomfortable character traits of their mentors.

A friendly HR will introduce the newcomer to the organization and corporate culture, to the head of the department. Will lead to the workplace. Not very sociable, but a responsible professional in 2, 3, 4 weeks will prepare the trainee to perform work functions on the machine, do wiring in the ABS, code or be a loader on a truck crane.

Priority #4. For ambitious students, attract specialists with excellent prof. competencies

In those areas where interns have an incredible motivation for development, it also makes no sense to pump up mentoring programs with different steroids concepts.

It is enough to train an experienced employee in an effective process of developing skills. Even Iron Arnie said that he was “ready to eat shit” to achieve a result. Ambition and leadership qualities of students help them to shake out of their mentors everything that contributes to their own results.

The training of beginners will be the faster, the more correctly the mentor organizes the development of their skills. For HR people focused on developing emotional intelligence and communication skills among staff, this approach may seem radical.

We do not encourage toxic communication. The development of communicative competencies in a team is a strategically justified decision and involves a whole range of activities. But the development of communication skills or motivation among mentors in a single short program is considered inappropriate. Especially if these specialists do not know how to help a beginner develop skills.

Priority #5. Selection of mentors is required to prepare interns for working with people

If training a beginner does not require a lot of time, but at the same time their work involves service or other interaction with people, then we recommend selecting mentors for whom communication is a value.

You can not attract employees with a tough character. They will demonstrate to students an uncomfortable communication style as the norm – this is not acceptable for such situations.

Communication techniques can be included in the mentor training program, but not to the detriment of developing learning skills. Information about communication techniques will work towards the task of developing these competencies in experienced employees and their students. Other concepts in the mentor training program are not justified in this situation.

Priority #6. When mentors work over long distances, use modular training programs

Long periods of training young professionals to solve complex or creative problems require special mentoring.

One-time training programs, which are a hodgepodge of different concepts, do not work for this task in any way. Here we need not only the selection of mentors, but also a modular, prolonged training program. In other words, for some time mentors should have their own mentor.

Alternatively, you can explore our Modular Mentor Training Program at hrd.arbat.top[ссылка удалена мод.]. The first module is specifically aimed at developing competencies that help mentors effectively train their colleagues.

Experience shows that people interact better when their expectations match. The mentor wants the trainee to start working independently as soon as possible. The trainee wants the same. Our program does an excellent job with this task.


Different work situations tell us that there can be no single recipe for training all mentors. However, the invariable recommendation, in all cases, remains the training of experienced employees in the process of developing skills.

When designing a curriculum, balance the number of concepts with how long it will take to master them. When designing a curriculum, balance the number of concepts with how long it will take to master them. Giving an experienced specialist different concepts and expecting him to turn into a guru is the same as offering a medical manual to a sick person and hoping for miraculous self-healing.

High-quality training of mentors is not possible in 2-3 days of training. Don’t create cognitive overload – it’s money and time wasted. A period of support by experienced specialists is needed.

Remember, ineffective curricula set a precedent for mentors as well. You cannot blame them for not trying hard in their work with their students. After all, they did the same. Is not it?

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