"If you fail to plan – you plan to fail"
While much can be caught in a mentoring relationship, the old adage above serves to remind both mentor and mentee that effective mentoring relationships happen as a result of planning - that which is purposefully taught and sought.
Program guidelines for the Resource Parent Mentor Program require mentee and mentor to have a face-to-face meeting as early as possible to help personalize the relationship, build rapport, and move toward building a relationship of trust. This meeting is often difficult for parents to accomplish for a variety of reasons, but it can be the most critical meeting of the six-month mentoring relationship. This is the best time to plan!
As active learners and partners for growth, what do you want to accomplish in the short time that you are formally matched? Answering this simple question together can provide a great blueprint for a successful mentoring relationship. Best practice in mentoring suggests that mentee and mentor negotiate a partnership development plan… and the key word is PLAN! Consider coming to that face-to-face meeting to share answers to the following critical questions…
- Why did I choose to become a Resource Parent?
- What day and time am I willing to commit for my weekly contacts?
- What questions can I ask to learn more about my mentor?
- What do I want to accomplish in meeting my child (ren)’s physical, spiritual, emotional, and educational needs?
- What are my goals in working with birth parents?
- What are my feelings about transitions and disruptions?
- What questions do I have about necessary paperwork?
- To whom do I want to be introduced?
- What questions do I have about working in partnership with DCBS
- What questions do I have about available resources for me and children entrusted to my care?
- How might my mentor support me emotionally?
- What do I most want to learn from my mentor?
While structuring mentoring relationships may seem a bit awkward or too formal, the process of answering these questions and others provides a great framework for planning a successful mentoring relationship. Formality doesn’t preclude friendliness or friendship. In fact, sharing our goals and expectations in a relationship is in itself an expression of caring respect.
One last word…be intentional about what you teach and seek! Now, lets look at the Partnership Development Plan.