Valluri Change Foundation leverages technology for effective mentoring

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”- Steven Spielberg.

What is Mentoring? Mentoring is a strong personal development and empowerment tool, which helps people progress in their professional career through knowledge sharing. A mentor is a guide who develops the mentee through coaching and knowledge transfer. Mentoring enables a large group of people to be the substantial drivers of economic, social and behavioral changes in the society. The hierarchical status of mentor is not as significant, as the learning potential he or she has to offer.

 This approach opens the door to new formats such as peer-mentoring and reverse mentoring.

 Peer-mentoring usually takes place between people at the same hierarchical level where one person (mentor) has experience and the mentee is keen on enhancing his skillsets.

In Reverse mentoring the mentor is lower down the organizational hierarchy than the mentee, but has knowledge regarding the use of modern technologies that the mentee may lack. Generational perspective may also give rise to the need for reverse mentoring.

Need for Technology in Mentoring

In a technology-hungry environment, new processes, products and materials are replacing old ones at a feverish pace in order to keep up with the increasing consumption and ambition of the youth. The speed of the innovation is faster than the ability to mentor people. Driven by high-speed communication networks, the world exchanges information on a real-time basis and marketing agendas should be designed to keep pace with them. Tools such as data analytics and data mining which were earlier used in highly specialized or scientific areas, have become an integral part of an organization.

In such a dynamic scenario skill sets need constant upgradation irrespective of age or experience that one may possess. Mentoring /Reverse mentoring are the need of the hour to stay in the game. Individual mentoring may be limiting in its effect since it can cover only a small percentage of people needing mentorship. Targeted intervention to a small group of people may be more effective in delivering the required guidance and mentorship.

Mentoring sessions allow the mentors from all over the world to interact with their mentees using technology. The mentees will have the ability to choose their mentors online. Technology will enable the mentees to have interactive sessions with the mentors. This technology for mentoring will reduce the travel time for both the mentors and the mentees.

Online Mentoring Technology or E-Mentoring:

Online Mentoring or E-Mentoring is a means of developing online mentorship programs through email, telecommunications and web access or any web based platform that contains tools that assist in the administration of one or more activities within a mentoring program. The mentoring program activities includes number of standards as well as components of a mentoring program, and ideally would be customized to fit the needs of a specific organization. The components for a mentoring program include a participant application process, online content, mentee goal tracking and learning plans, program feedback survey and customized ROI (return on investment) reports.

Program managers could use this platform to identify appropriate mentor-mentee pairs through a matching algorithm and custom matching criteria. They can then track and record the program success. Even at high participant volumes, these platforms can help in implementing and managing every aspect of the mentoring programs. In particular, a well configured mentoring platforms offers an efficient solution for the biggest challenges of implementing and handling a mentoring program. There are many different types of technologies business could employ while designing a mentoring program and these are as follows:

  1. Video Conferencing: A video conferencing is a visual live connection between two or more people dwelling in separate locations for communication. It’s a technology that allows users in different locations to hold a face to face meeting without having to move to a single location. This methodology is generally used by business users in different cities or different countries to hold routine meetings and conferences because this method saves time, expense and hassle associated with business travel.
  2. Online Mentoring System: The benefits of online mentoring systems are:
  • It streamlines the Program Management: The key differences between a formal and informal mentoring program is its inaccuracy. Informal programs are more independent, where the mentors and mentees make their own decisions regarding their associations. Formal programs, on the other hand is handled by a program manager. These Program Managers ensure amenability with the guidelines given and make sure that the mentoring program is conducted properly with all the online system. The beauty of the online mentoring system is that it streamlines the Program Managers tasks.
  • Connects the remote workforces: The online mentoring system connects people from anywhere in the city, state, or country be it a remote or urban space. The online mentoring program allows people to:
  • Take part in a formal mentoring session
  • To communicate well with the Program Managers.
  • Track their progress and record the guidelines
  • To communicate with other program participants through online forums, online chats, social media that’s integrated with the software.
  • Provides a Green Solution: The mentoring programs need countless reinforced documents such as questionnaire and evaluations. Instead of circulating information through mails, the online mentoring programs serves as a repository for all the documents linked with the program, reducing the wastage of paper, protecting the environment and saving a lot of office supplies in addition to saving time on travel.
  • Has “Headroom” adaptability: Few years ago, Twitter and Facebook were not juggernaut as it is today. The online mentoring program helps integrate new trends through the use of technology and will allow headroom to grow and add innovative plug-ins that make sense to the participants.
  1. E-Learning: A learning system based on formalized teaching but with the help of electronic resources. E-Learning system allows mentoring of all the participants without the need for travel.
  2. E-mail: As important as it now seems in our day to day life, if a participant or a mentoring pair tries to connect only through mails it will fail. Although email is considered as one of the greatest ways to share the agendas, mentoring through email is the least effective.

As technologies continue to evolve in the coming years the only thing that will remain constant is the basic dynamics of a mentoring program alongwith its ability to transform the participants effectively in the shortest period of time.

According to John C. Crosby “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” – John C. Crosby