Mentoring programs are a proven tool to help welfare
recipients and other disadvantaged workers transition into the workplace. Mentoring
can help these workers overcome poor work histories and other barriers
to employment, including poor "soft skills." However, despite the
benefits, many companies do not yet have active mentoring programs. This section
discusses the tenets of a good mentoring program that will help PHAs either evaluate
partner mentoring programs or design and implement an in-house program.
Employers - large
and small - are increasingly using this approach to help entry-level employees
make a smooth transition into the workplace as well as to retain their best employees.
PHAs that want to develop partnerships with
employers to provide this important service should consider the following suggestions
for organizing and implementing an in-house mentoring program:
Develop program goals. The program should help voucher recipients
become savvy about managing their careers, and it should help companies build
morale and improve job retention. Programs can help voucher recipients develop
long-term career goals and think about a career path before beginning the job
search process. Voucher recipients will be more motivated and enthusiastic about
an entry-level position if they know it will put them on a path to reaching long-term
Design an implementation strategy. It is
helpful to designate a program manager and obtain consensus from staff on how
many individuals your PHA or partner can reasonably mentor. Once this is agreed
upon, you can determine what type of employer to partner with, how many mentors
to recruit, and the period of time to which mentors must commit.
with local employers. This is a key component of any mentoring program
since one of the objectives is to help individuals make a successful transition
into the workplace. When partnering with the business community, highlight the
advantages of mentoring, including improved retention, reduced absenteeism, and
Partner with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).
Collaboration with local faith-based organizations, local business organizations,
and other CBOs can help to recruit mentors. Some possibilities include your local
Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), or your local United Way chapter.
These organizations offer a ready source of older individuals with experience,
wisdom about the business world, and time to devote to mentoring.
an orientation and matching session for potential mentors and mentees.
Many people do not understand the dynamics of a mentoring relationship. In addition,
volunteers may not realize the time commitment involved - weekly meetings, being
available to talk any time a problem arises, and an overall commitment of at least
six months to a year. It is also important to have mentors and mentees spend time
together before determining whether the relationship is a good fit. Mentees should
ultimately be able to determine whether or not they are comfortable working with
a chosen mentor.
Schedule a training session for committed mentors.
People often have the wrong idea of a mentor's role and need training from an
expert before they begin. A mentor is many things: a trusted friend, a good listener,
and someone with knowledge and experience. However, a mentor is not a source of
money, a chauffeur, or a nag. Mentors need to know what behavior is appropriate
and what is not.
Develop a recognition system for mentors.
Everyone needs a pat on the back and the assurance that they are doing a good
job, including mentor volunteers. PHAs can recognize mentors with a separate column
or page in their annual report about the mentoring program. PHAs can also hold
an annual lunch or dinner to acknowledge the good works of their mentors.
occasional mentor group meetings. The program manager should schedule
occasional group meetings for mentors. These meetings are important to give mentors
the opportunity to share their experiences, successes, and challenges with other
mentors. The system also provides a support network to assist mentors in emergency
Develop an evaluation system. This is essential
to ensure program quality and continuous improvement. The system should include
regular mentor debriefing sessions to make sure that mentor/mentee relationships
are working well.
Benchmark examples of successful mentoring programs.
Gathering resource material on best practices in mentoring programs will
help to improve your PHA's (or partner's) program. For more information about
the mentoring process and for examples of successful mentoring programs, contact
the following organizations: