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Articles     by The The Growth Connection
© Copyright The Growth Connection Pty. Ltd. 1999-2012


The Importance of a Dedicated Program Co-ordinator
by Imogen Wareing

I am often asked if a specific program coordinator is necessary and if so, what their role should be. Our recent world wide research and our own experience in implementing mentoring programs demonstrate that committing a person to be accountable for the program administration is essential to its success. This is especially true of a pilot mentoring program.

Problem areas
The most common problems that occur are:

  • the role is not clearly understood
  • the program coordinator is not given sufficient time to undertake the role
  • the same individual does not stay with the role due to turnover or other priorities

If you have already changed your program coordinator your mentor program could be at risk. Issues of selection of the program coordinator, back up in case of absence, defining the role and allocating time need to be decided in the planning stages of your pilot program. When considering the time demands, a rule of thumb is to double the time you think it will require !

The role of the program coordinator will vary according to your program objectives and organisational culture but will usually cover

  • "selling" the mentoring program
  • administration of the program
  • implementation of the program communication strategy
  • organising the pool of mentors and mentorees and their training
  • follow up with biodata and the matching process
  • removing road blocks
  • monitoring the mentoring relationships
  • sorting out difficulties mentors/mentorees may encounter
  • measurement and evaluation of the program

The time commitment is heaviest in the planning stages and first two months of the program. Once the mentors and mentorees have met two or three times the central managing role will reduce.

Selection of the program coordinator
Enthusiasm about mentoring is the most important criterion for selection. The program coordinator will often be chivvying people along to read material, write their biodata, make time to participate in training, persevere with their mentor/mentoree and so on. A constant positive and encouraging attitude is vital.

Other selection criteria are

  • organising ability
  • persuasiveness
  • self confidence
  • sensitivity
  • discretion
  • knowledgeable about mentoring
  • well regarded and well liked in the organisation

Enthusiasm about mentoring is the most important criterion for selection ... A constant positive and encouraging attitude is vital.

In some organisations, the level the program coordinator sits in the hierarchy is a consideration. Mentors are often at a senior level and need to be comfortable potentially sharing concerns about the mentoring relationships with the coordinator.

It is advisable to involve more than one person in the program coordinator's role to provide choice in who to contact and avoid being vulnerable to staff changes.

The program coordinator's role is highly visible throughout a pilot mentoring program and very rewarding for the individual when it succeeds. As having a mentoring program becomes part of the culture, the amount of coordination needed will lessen. However, some central administration and follow up will always be necessary to maintain momentum and ensure the organisation's and the participants needs are being met.

Mentoring Resources
The following resources on mentoring are recommended by The Growth Connection:

  • Beyond The Myths and Magic of Mentoring by Margo Murray.
  • The Mentor's Guide by Linda Phillips-Jones.
  • The Mentoree's Guide by Linda Phillips-Jones.
  • The Mentoring Program Coordinator's Guide by Linda Phillips-Jones.
  • Mentoring: How to develop successful mentor behaviour by Gordon Shea.
  • Guidelines of Mentoring for Women published by NSW Ministry for the Status and Advancement of Women. Written by Imogen Wareing.

We can also provide access to a Mentoring/Coaching Skills Assessment (MCSA). The MCSA is an assessment and personalised feedback report designed to improve mentoring skills. This assessment includes a survey for the Mentor and three of their colleagues or mentorees to rate skills. The profile provides an objective assessment of the mentor by the colleagues/mentorees on nine skill areas and includes personalised tips to improve mentoring skills. It provides an effective link to ongoing staff development.

For more details, contact Imogen Wareing

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For more information on The Growth Connection Services please call
Imogen on (02) 9787 2748 (International +61 2 9787 2748) or email us.


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