January is “mentoring” month, the perfect time to begin or renew a mentoring relationship for mentors and proteges alike. Here’s a tip on how to make mentoring work best: tie it to experiential learning.
Mentors can do many things — helping their proteges secure experiential learning opportunities and get the most out of them sits at the top of the list. Here’s a good benchmark. Given that about 70% of learning is experiential learning, mentoring programs should be geared so that 70% of a mentoring relationship involves experiential learning.
Here are the details:
- The mentor should be active in the design of the protege’s development plan.
- The mentor should help the protege identify the experiential learning opportunities that will engage the protege in critical development.
- The mentor should be a proactive advocate helping the protege secure these experiential learning opportunities.
- The mentor should review the protege’s development progress, confirming that the experiential learning is working.
- The mentor should be prepared to validate the protege’s successful development; citing experiential learning as where the capabilities have been demonstrated.
- The mentor should help the protege identify continuing capability gaps and help plan for further experiential learning opportunities.
This approach requires a lot of discipline by both parties. Where a protege is not willing to step up to this level of accountability, the mentor should pull back and find a protege who is willing to own his development. Likewise, a protege should not stick with a mentor who falls short on helping facilitate meaningful experiential learning.