Project Managers Against Poverty (PMAP) has partnered with Humentum to run an e-mentoring network for project managers who work in international development and the Third Sector. Our MentorNet e-mentoring platform enables mentors and mentees to register and manage their profiles, to securely establish and conduct successful mentoring relationships. Mentees are able to choose their mentors. We have 44 volunteer mentors registered from 21 countries, and 41 mentees registered from 22 countries (as at the end of 2017). The service is provided at no cost to users.
Read about a highly successful project management mentoring relationship when an Indonesian NGO worker sought expert advice from a Portuguese Project Manager based in the UK. This article appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of APM's Project Journal.
Read about a highly successful project management mentoring relationship when an Indonesian NGO worker sought expert advice from a Portuguese Project Manager. This article appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of APM's Project Journal.
See the Resources page for essential information about mentoring and project management in development.
Mentoring is a confidential one-to-one relationship in which an individual (mentee) consults a more experienced person (mentor) outside of their management chain or organisation as a sounding board and for guidance. It is a non-judgmental relationship that facilitates a wide range of learning, experimentation and development. It should offer space and time for an individual to reflect on their work, career and development thus far and explore ways forward. It should be a mentee-led experience, with clear learning benefits for both parties.
Each mentoring scheme has its own particular emphasis but they all share a common purpose in seeking to encourage the mentee to take charge of his/her own development, to increase his/her professional competence, independence, self-confidence and desire to improve.
The "mentoring" takes place through discussions at regular scheduled meetings between mentees and mentors over a mutually agreed period. Mentees and mentors may also exchange documents for comment and training material.
It’s a great opportunity for “giving-back” to the project management community and helps to fight poverty. Make a difference! It's also a great learning opportunity.
Also, acting as a mentor for a fellow professional counts as Continuing Professional Development (CPD). On request the mentoring scheme administrator will issue mentors (and mentees) a CPD certificate which can be used as evidence as CPD for professional bodies.
The mentor’s aim should be to develop their mentee in his or her chosen aspiration or to help to overcome a particular work (not personal) problem through discussion at regular meetings (these can be face-to-face, either physical or through Skype, by messaging or email). The mentor’s key objective is to listen and take a personal interest in others. A mentor should act as a sounding board, question assumptions, explore possibilities, and not simply ‘provide the answers’.
The mentor draws on the resource of their experience and knowledge to facilitate the exploration of the mentee’s own experience, learning and options.
Best practice in mentoring suggests that an effective mentor will more effectively support the mentee if they:
Mentees are genuinely seeking advice and guidance from experts and experienced professionals. Please bear in mind that PMAP mentors are unpaid volunteers. As a mentee, you should be willing to do most of the work preparing for each session, following up on next steps, and of course respecting the mentor's time and investment in your success.
Ask questions, be truthful, and above all make it a conversation. Share exciting ideas as well as challenges, and sustain the relationship by following up regularly. Don't forget to give your mentor feedback and occasionally say “thank you”.
Mentoring is about helping people to realize their full potential. It is not about ‘patronage’ or ‘cronyism’. One of the challenges mentors face is to avoid building up in the mentee an unhealthy reliance on their advice and solutions. Long-term dependence by the mentee on one influential person is not helpful.
Mentoring is not normally an open-ended relationship. It is not ususally intended that the relationship should continue indefinitely. Indeed, as a person progresses through their career, they may benefit from a number of different kinds of mentor at different points.
If the mentor is outside the mentee's organisation he/she will not discuss any aspects of their professional relationship with the mentee's line manager or try to influence any decisions of the organisation.
Successful mentoring depends on the forging of a good relationship between the mentor and mentee. If mentor and mentee do not 'gel' - for whatever reason - either party is entitled to seek to end the relationship on a "no fault" basis.
Although each partnership will establish the meeting pattern that suits them best depending on circumstances - this could be weekly or less frequently. A good rule of thumb is to aim to meet at least once a month. If meeting face-to-face or by Skype this should be for about an hour, certainly no more than an hour and a half because concentration levels diminish and a meeting can lose its focus and, ultimately, its value.
To join the PMAP scheme as a mentor you should be an experienced project manager. You do not need to have mentored before. If you haven't mentored before we can provide resources to help you. Other mentors on the programme can give you support if you need it.
In a traditional mentor-mentee relationship meetings between the mentor and mentee would be face-to-face. However for mentoring schemes with participants scattered all over the world this is seldom possible. In recent years a new and effective form of mentoring-at-a-distance has developed, called e-mentoring, and has been utilized by many different types of business mentoring schemes.
Skype and FaceTime allow easy visual communication, but perhaps surprisingly, email or, in our case, messaging conversations through the website have proved to be the best medium for e-mentoring, with Skype/FaceTime for the initial meeting only. Email and messaging conversations allow more time for mentors to think about the advice that they give and also allows the mentee more time to consider their responses and frame questions. It also avoids fixed times for meetings which might be difficult to achieve with different time zones and busy schedules.
There is considerable debate about the use of the terms ‘mentoring’ and ‘coaching’ - some people do not distinguish between coaching and mentoring. However, it is generally agreed that a mentor as a critical friend, or guide who is responsible for overseeing the career and development of another person outside the normal manager/subordinate relationship. A coach is someone who plans an intervention “designed to improve the performance of an individual in a specific task".
This is a "subset" of mentoring whereby someone who is new to a job, organisation or business unit is assigned a colleague who will introduce them to other people, answer any general administrative questions and help them settle into the area with all its individual quirks, etc.
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© Project Managers Against Poverty 2018