Mentor Guidelines

BECOME A MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS MENTOR

Mentoring is a powerful tool that is critical to the advancement of women and minorities, broadcast companies and the electronic media industry as a whole. Not only does it play a significant role in the development of an individual’s career, it helps companies enhance the skills of their employees and improves diversity in broadcasting.

Though the benefits of mentoring are well established, the process still remains unfamiliar to many. The basic facts about mentoring are that it is easy, it takes very little time, and it is flexible, so that it can be adapted to any work environment. 

The purpose of this brochure is to explain the mentoring process and offer guidelines to help develop a successful mentor program.

What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is the process by which a more senior person contributes expertise and advice to assist a more junior person for the purpose of career development. Serving as a trusted guide, the mentor passes along skills, knowledge, resources and wisdom.

How Does It Work?
There are no set rules for the mentor process. In fact, mentoring is conducted in many different ways. For example, mentoring can be a one-on-one relationship, a group situation in which one mentor addresses a group, or a team approach, in which a team of executives mentors a group of less experienced employees. Mentoring can be a single meeting to address a specific problem, it can entail a series of meetings held over the course of a year or two to deal with ongoing career issues, or it can develop into a long-term role of support and guidance. Mentoring can be carried out formally as part of a company policy in which employees are matched with others through the human resources department. It can also occur informally as part of a friendship or a professional acquaintance. Either way, if you want to participate, you will likely have to take a proactive approach.

Why Is Mentoring Important?
According to the Federal Communications Commission, women hold only 35 percent of management positions in broadcast companies, and minorities only 18 percent. As a result, women and minorities are often excluded from the powerful networks that help propel careers to the highest levels. To integrate more women and minorities into management roles, companies are implementing various programs, such as mentoring, which have proven to be an effective, low-cost method for providing employees with skills, guidance and information needed to develop their careers. 

Mentoring gives women and minorities firsthand knowledge and personal insight that they cannot get from reading books. Mentors gain satisfaction from developing the talents of others and by helping put them into the pipeline for advancement. Employers gain because career development programs like this usually translate into a lower staff turnover and higher job satisfaction. The industry benefits when women and minorities are better represented in senior roles, thus improving diversity at decision-making levels.

Finding a Mentor

  • Ask your supervisor or human resources department what, if any, mentoring programs already exist. Sometimes, human resources departments maintain lists of employees who want to participate in mentor programs. 
  • If your company does not have a mentor program, start one of your own. With the assistance of the human resources department or your supervisor, start a task force with others who are interested in mentoring. Inform your colleagues and hold a meeting to determine the level of interest. Determine the type of mentor program that would work best for you and the company. Although the one-on-one approach has the greatest potential for sharing and trust, another good alternative is group mentoring, in which a senior executive mentors a small group of employees. This type of program reaches more people and the group interaction fosters a rich experience. 
  • If you are unable to start a mentor program at your company, then you might want to approach someone you respect at work to ask if that person would be willing to meet with you once or twice a month to offer career advice. 
  • To find a mentor program for women or minorities in the broadcast industry, join a professional society or a trade association – such as American Women in Radio and Television – that offers a mentor program to its members.

Guidelines for a Mentor Program
Though the structure of a mentor program can vary, it is important that it include the following elements: 

  • The establishment of focus and goals at the onset. For example, create a program to enhance an employee’s computer proficiency. Draft an expectations statement to clarify the focus and goals. Doing so will save time and eliminate potential frustration. 
  • A specified duration of the program and frequency of meetings. A fixed period of time is less threatening to people and you can extend the relationship if both parties are amenable. If you want to solve a specific problem, then a one-time meeting may be appropriate. However, if you want overall guidance to help develop your career, then a series of meetings over a specified period of time would be more effective. Some mentors meet monthly over the course of a year, while others meet twice monthly for a period of six months. Determine what works best for you, your mentor and your company. 
  • Flexibility. Make sure the program is available and accessible to all interested parties, but do not make participation mandatory. Employees should be able to participate freely or choose not to participate at all. 
  • Creative learning techniques. For example, have mentees attend a meeting to observe their mentor in a management situation or have the mentee accompany the mentor to an event where he/she is speaking. 
  • A specified schedule of meetings. Keep to the schedule and be consistent. Consistency will add to the credibility of the program and improve your end result. 
  • An evaluation system to ensure quality. Incorporate a quarterly review that will bring both participants together to share your progress. This gives both parties the opportunity to reevaluate the process and make changes as necessary. 

Keys to a Successful Mentorship
Share. A successful mentorship is based on the mentor’s willingness and ability to share information, insight and career experiences with another person in an open and honest manner. The key is to establish a relationship based on trust and mutual respect so that the mentor can share experiences in a meaningful way. Just as important, the mentee must have a willingness to learn and to accept the expertise of his/her mentor.
Make Time. Although mentoring does not have to take up much time – a one-hour meeting once or twice a month could suffice – it does require a time commitment on both parts. Mentors should be willing to set aside a specified amount of time and stick to the agreed-upon schedule of meetings. Mentees should be considerate of the mentor’s time and use it wisely.
Challenge. A mentor should push mentees out of their comfort zones and challenge them to grow and take on new projects that stretch their limits and prove their capabilities.
For More Information
The Mentoring Program of Media Communications is offered in collaboration with Christian Faith World Ministries Media Center.  These organizations recognize the value of mentoring for educating and advancing women and minorities in the media industry workforce. For more information to become an Mentor contact us at
mentors@mediacommunications.us