Good morning, my name is Alycia Hyre Human Resources Specialists for Harford County Public Library. I also chaired not one, but two teams in developing HCPL’s mentoring program.
Harford County Public Library implemented the mentoring program in July 2007. The program was developed by two teams – the first team determined staff wants and needs for a mentoring program. The second team was charged with further developing the program to include program guidelines, training for mentors and mentees, and how to evaluate both the relationships and the program. What is unique about HCPL’s program is the very limited amount of paperwork required by all parties involved. After the pairing, only 3 things are required: the mentoring agreement, mid-point evaluation, and final evaluation. However, if the mentee and mentor decide to use additional written documentation such as a development plan, they are welcome to do so.
Through the first three years, HCPL’s primary focus was on pairing newly hired or recently promoted salaried managers, supervisors, administrators, and MLS librarians for both the branches and administrative support office. Your system will need to determine your target audience and what categories or groups will be assigned a mentor.
Will the mentoring program be open to full time, part time, and/or hourly staff. A word of caution for hourly staff – Be cautious of the time involved with the mentoring relationship and the limited amount of time he/she an contribute to the relationship. HCPL paired an hourly staff member who was struggling with her position, with another hourly staff member in a like position. Unfortunately the mentee had difficulty making and keeping commitments because of the limited number of hours per week that she worked.
You also need to consider whether you will open the program up to all staff or a select group? Are you interested in a leadership track that is available for current managerial and supervisory staff? Keeping succession planning in mind, do you need to groom your professional or non-professional staff, or both?
If you are going to initially open up the mentoring program to a select group of staff, will you phase in other staff categories in the future? After three years, HCPL evaluated the process and will offering the mentoring program to all staff in July 2010.
Part of the process is to determine a pool of mentors.
At Harford County Public Library, Staff interested in becoming a mentor, complete a two page application indicating what areas they would be interested in mentoring other staff. The mentor application must be approved by the immediate supervisor to ensure the individual is in good standing and to show the supervisor is supportive of the time commitment of the mentoring program. Final approval is given by the Human Resources Department and Senior Administration.
Staff interested in becoming a mentor must have worked for the library for at least one year and have received ratings of meetings expectations or higher in all employee and/or managerial competencies as part of their annual performance review. No prior experience as a mentor is required, as training is provided to the mentor and the mentee.
The next step if to decide who to pair with the mentee. It is important to pair the mentor and mentee within two weeks from the hire date, promotion, or other personnel action.
Similar to new hires, you must also analyze the newly promoted staff member’s work history and experience with your library system. For example, our Payroll and Benefits Specialist was promoted to the position of Payroll and Benefits Manager. She did not need a mentor in payroll or benefit policies and procedures, as she already possessed that knowledge. She did however require someone to mentor her in managing a staff and balancing the managerial responsibilities along with her new job responsibilities. Everyone’s needs with be different and each pairing will not be the same.
Review the new hires past work experience. Have they worked in a library system? Have they worked in a non-profit or government environment? Have they worked in an academic/government agency? Or worked for a public library in another county or state?
You must analyze areas that the newly hired individual may need to focus on. A Web Manager who worked in the private sector may need to be mentored in the culture of the organization, the core purpose of a library and how it operates, and understanding the business processes of the organization. A MLS librarian who worked in an academic library may need to be paired with someone who can help them understand the culture of the library, introduce the community leaders, or exchange and share resources. A MLS Librarian who worked for a public library in another county or state, may need to be mentored in the culture of the organization, networking with community leaders/contacts, or understanding the business processes of the organization.
Do you pair like positions? If you have worked with your Human Resources staff long enough, you know this answer all to well. It depends. You have your simple matches: Librarian to Librarian; Assistant Branch Manager to Assistant Branch Manager. But what about your unique positions? We have had great success with pairing unique positions. The Senior Administrator for Public Services, with many years spent in libraries, with 3 years with HCPL, mentored the newly promoted Payroll & Benefits Manager and later mentored the Acting Facilities and Operations Manager; each time forming lasting relationships that went beyond the formal relationship. The Computer Support Manager with 30 + years with HCPL, mentored the newly hired Web Service Manager providing in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of the library, that only someone with 30+ years could provide. If you have strong mentors you should not be afraid to pair them with someone in an unlike position.
About two weeks after the mentee is hired or promoted, an initial meeting should occur. Waiting two weeks gives the mentee time to complete any required training, and gives them a basic overview of what their position entails. Key players at that meeting are Human Resources, the mentee, and the mentor. Human Resources Department Staff attend the initial meeting to provide an overview of the program and to facilitate any training involved. One component used by HCPL is the Mentoring Agreement. The Mentoring Agreement is reviewed and discussed at the initial meeting. The agreement includes discussion of the duration of the relationship, meeting parameters, learning and communication styles, confidentiality between the mentor and mentee, and a discussion of the expectations for the relationship from each party.
We really reel overall the program design works well. Some of the highlights are recognition, keep it simple, but smart, and the mentor guides the relaitonship
At the end of the formal relationship, the mentor and mentee are presented a certificate of completion at their branch meeting which provides recognition from their peers. An annual breakfast is held in January which is national mentoring month. Mmentors and mentees are able discuss what they thought worked well in the program and areas they felt could use further development. Senior Administrators are invited to attend to recognize the efforts of the mentors and mentees.
With all the existing constraints placed on staff, adding layers of paperwork to complete, may only deter staff from becoming a mentor. Develop a simple, but SMART program, one where the objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Be flexible with time. A newly hired mentee may need more time to form a relationship with their mentor than someone who has worked for the system for a significant amount of time. Check in about three months into the relationship and see how the mentor and mentee feel things are progressing. Do they feel another three months is adequate, or would they like to continue the relationship for up to one year? However, you will want to have an established ending date for all relationships, whether 6 months, one year, or two years.
The mentee guides the relationship. A mentee is responsible for managing the relationship as he/she is aware of the their needs and the amount of time he or she can commit.
One potential pitfall, is confusing mentoring by the supervisor with mentoring by the mentor. One of the roles of supervisors and managers is to mentor thei staff. The assigned mentor must be careful not to confuse their role of the mentor of that of the supervisor. Topics of discussion between mentor and mentees may include work experience, career goals, skills and useful problem solving strategies, meetings and conferences attended, job shadowing, and exchanging and sharing resources. The mentee and mentor should discuss and revise development goals periodically to ensure they are on track and not covering areas that the mentor’s supervisor should be covering.
Another potential pitfall is confusing traning with mentoring. Mentoring is a reciprocal relationship that focuses on development. A mentor is a confidential sounding board and guide, someone outside the mentee’s hierarchy, someone who provides perspective and asks though-provoking questions. Training is the process of bringing a person to an agreed standard of proficiency by practice and instruction.
The last pitfall to avoid is reinventing the wheel Obviously you want to develop a mentoring program that meets the needs of your organization; however, there are dozens of established mentoring programs already out there. I would recommend creating a team charged with determining what components of a mentoring program your organization will need. Once you have criteria in which you need to meet, network with other systems and HR professionals to find out what they are currently using.
Got Mentoring? MLA Conference 2010 Harford County Public Library Presented by Alycia Hyre, Human Resources Specialist
Do You Pair Like Positions? <ul><li>Web Services Assistant Branch </li></ul><ul><li>Manager Manager </li></ul><ul><li>Assistant Branch Senior Administrator Manager Public Services </li></ul><ul><li>Payroll and Benefits Computer Support </li></ul><ul><li>Manager Manager </li></ul>
<ul><li>Mentoring is a developmental, caring, sharing, and helping relationship where one person (mentor) invests time, know-how, and effort in enhancing another person’s (mentee) growth, knowledge, and skills. </li></ul><ul><li>- Gordon F. Shea </li></ul>