Mentoring and the Birkman

Successful Mentoring Programs start with identifying the Mentor-to-Mentee relationship based upon the specific learning goals for the Mentee in a particular period of their career or role.

The Mentor will have a proven track record in that area and has successfully achieved results. They will also have a personal style and values that align to the culture of the Mentee’s organisation. In addition they will understand how to navigate relationships within the organisation.

If the Mentoring program is simply a random and/or forced assignment of an executive to a manager then there will be limited value gained from the exercise. Both parties are likely to consider the assignment as just another HR program that adds more hours to their already busy day.

Mentoring – Avoid random or forced assignment of Mentors

The assignment of a Mentor will work best when the Mentor understands how to move the Mentee through the transition period to their ultimate goal. Furthermore, the Mentor should be willing to use political capital to support them while their learning and practicing the new behaviours and skills.

This is where having the Mentee  (and Mentor if they have not already done so) complete the Birkman assessment can be a significant benefit for two reasons:

  • Enables the Mentor to fully understand the characteristics of the relationship, establishing when it is appropriate to challenge or support the Mentee in the context of the mentor-mentee relationship
  • Enables the Mentee to understand the Mentor’s style and approach in relation to their learning needs, helping the Mentee self-manage and discuss the differences in style and approach to organisational issues centred around interpersonal relationships.

Often the Mentor will have skills and behaviours that represent the culture of success in the company. The Birkman can help both the Mentor and Mentee to understand their differences, making it easier for the Mentor to understand what they personally have to self-manage and what the Mentee needs to learn to either self-manage or demonstrate outwardly in working with management or other employees.

To achieve the best investment of time and emotional energy in a mentoring engagement, the matching and assignment process of the Mentor-to-Mentee should incorporate the Birkman Method. Thereby, both parties have a greater chance of understanding how the dynamics of their relationship will work and/or what the behavioural learning will be by engaging the Mentor.