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Implementing mentoring schemes – review

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Title: Implementing Mentoring Schemes: a practical guide to successful programs
Authors: Nadine Klasen, David Clutterbuck
Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2002, Paperback
Price: £22.99
ISBN: 0750654309

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Mentoring and coaching offer huge benefits to today’s students of personal change. Well who isn’t in this category? An old saying expresses the fate and future of those who aren’t engaged in personal development: "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got." Training alone is seldom enough. The most frustrating thing about being a trainer is to find out that willing and enthusiastic participants are still doing the same things six months later. Making training work is important to me, which is why I was attracted to this book's title.

It is a very complete and very structured examination of learning, coaching, and mentoring. If what you need is a concise and comprehensive summary of the wealth of thinking about mentoring, this is a good book to get. If you are planning to implement a formal mentoring scheme, reading this book will warn you of the pitfalls and help you make plans. Its clinical nature made it a tough read for me. I prefer a story-telling style. Never the less, a great deal of thinking has gone into this book by the authors.

In chapter one they do a balanced job of seeking a common definition. When is a mentor not a mentor? When he or she is a coach, or manager, or guardian, or counsellor, or facilitator, or trainer, or teacher. There are differences although people in all these roles, at one time or another, fulfil all of these roles.

The book includes a lot of lists and tables. I found some of these very useful. In particular I liked the ‘Guidelines for Mentees and Mentors’, buried in the middle of chapter 3. Many case-studies illustrate the intent and experiences of companies who have run mentoring programmes. In chapter 4, on page 130, Nadine reviews the results of empirical studies into success rates for mentoring schemes. It seems that there are more failures than successes. Perhaps this is not surprising, considering all the things that must be got right to create working partnerships between people.
Many words are committed to exploring how people learn, drawing on many well-known works on the subject. Chapter six provides 27 pages of advice for preparing a proposal for a formal mentoring scheme and chapter eight provides extensive help, including forms, for implementing it.

This is a very balanced book. It didn’t set me alight with new certainty, or refresh old ideas with an exciting new approach, however, it did fill in some gaps in my knowledge.
I have no doubt that to change we need the support of others. All of the roles are important and can be fulfilled formally and informally. ‘Implementing Mentoring Schemes’ is a useful reference book for all people who are interested in helping others develop. For sales managers competition forces the pace. Regardless of the pressure on people to perform ever more effectively, it seems to me that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil a greater potential. I have faith in another old saying, "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear".

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