CRHNet Mentor Program

Aim

The aim of the CRHNet Mentorship program is to encourage and facilitate mentorship relationships that would enhance the practice of disaster risk reduction and response in Canada through the growth of related Canadian professionals.

Definitions

“Mentor” – someone who takes a personal interest in the another’s professional growth and guides him or her towards that goal. (The literature uses other terms to describe this role: Coach, counsellor, guru, teacher, advisor, hero, transitional figure, moral supporter, confidence builder, rabbi, tutor and patron.)

“Mentorship” – a relationship in which a person of greater rank/position, knowledge base, or expertise teaches, counsels, guides and develops a novice in an organization or profession.

“Protégé” – the person who is willingly engaged in a dynamic relationship with a “mentor” to achieve professional and personal growth.

Targeted participants

This program is intended for practitioners, students, public officials and academics who are engaged in any of the many elements of disaster risk reduction and response (DRR-R), including: emergency planning, disaster response, business continuity/recovery, the sciences (e.g., natural, health, engineering), recovery/reconstruction, community development, resilience/capacity building and many more.

Age, gender and level of experience are not intended to limit either those seeking a mentor, or their mentor. However, mentors in this program are expected to be profoundly experienced in their sector of DRR-R or well positioned in their organization to guide or assist their protégée.

Protégés must be living in Canada. While Canadian mentors are encouraged, this program may accept them from other countries with similar disaster-related values as Canada.

Mentors and protégés may be of the same or of different gender. However, they both need to agree to that arrangement as per the process identified below.

Background

The term mentor was derived from Mentor, who was the wise counselor and very close friend of Ulysses, to whom Ulysses entrusted the care of his own son during his ten-year infamous odyssey. Mentoring relationships have always been an accepted process in teaching and learning of the arts, when one ‘studied with a Master’. These relationships are equally important in our rapidly evolving world and are prevalent in all forms of human endeavor that require intellectual and experiential growth; these endeavors may be facilitated and even expedited through mentorships or the transfer of otherwise-hidden knowledge to someone just starting in the field or in an organization.

CRHNet has long believed in the value of mentorship programs; it is now committed to promoting these with the goal of creating a strong professional base to enhance Canada’s resilience to disaster. In doing so, CRHNet aims to structure the framework of a mentorship program and facilitate diverse mentorship interactions, which will enable the creativity and dynamic interplay that such relationships are likely to generate.

Benefits

Having a mentor is not a guarantee for one’s success; similarly, like all other human relationships, mentorships depend on the amount of dedication and commitment put in by each member in the relationship and the ‘chemistry’ between them.

The Dictionary of Occupational Titles describe mentoring as the highest and most complex level of functioning in the people-related skills. It provides both the encouragement for planned personal growth and the linkages to resources to make this growth possible. The benefits are numerous and appear at many levels.

The most obvious benefits, because they are the main target of mentorship relationships, are those that are gained by those being mentored. Mentors are typically better informed, positioned, resourced, and connected than their protégé; typically, they are also more experienced in the ways of their profession, organization, industry, or network. Protégé may gain information, resources, contacts, exposure, or opportunities they may otherwise not have. By having a mentor, protégés may also gain through added confidence or the availability of a sounding board to explore new ideas.

Mentors also benefit from the mentoring relationship. The literature on topic indicates that mentors gain a fresh perspective (i.e., of their long-held beliefs, current/future professional reality or practice), improved own performance (i.e., being ‘energized’), satisfaction from assisting in another’s growth, professional recognition (or ‘standing’) for their contribution, and a potential friendship (or collegiality) with someone that may otherwise would have been overlooked.

Organizations including agencies and businesses gain much from mentorship relationships. These relationships reduce the time and challenges of integrating employees into new positions or roles; they also create a positive and dynamic environment that helps incubate new ideas, increase motivation, reduce time spent on re-inventing the wheel, reduce operating errors or costs, facilitate succession, and promote overall growth.

Mentorships are bound to assist our field of practice by advancing the transfer of related knowledge, allowing the exposure of new ideas or perspectives into the overall dialogue, and increasing the number of successful ‘players’ in the field. CRHNet firmly believes that successful mentorships in disaster risk reduction and response are bound to enhance Canada’s resilience to disaster.

Roles and Expectations

The program clearly expects mentors and protégés to be honest with each other regarding their expectations; similarly, they are expected to share openly the information (including issues or challenges) that form the basis of their mentorship relations. Mentors and protégés need to have strong inter-personal communication skills or willingness to improve these skills through this relationship.

Mentors are expected to:

  • Serve as a role model,

  • Explore the professional aspirations of their protégé,

  • Be available and responsive (i.e., prompt) when needed or requested,

  • Help the protégée set professional goals,

  • Provide honest, respectful and tactful advice, guidance or feedback,

  • Readily share knowledge and relate experiences,

  • Serve as a sounding board, and be willing to explore new ideas or strategies,

  • Make recommendations towards helping to advance the protégé goals and aspirations (as appropriate),

  • Promote the protégé (within the organization, industry or network), help the protégé make connections (as appropriate), or advise the protégé of related opportunities, and

  • Strive to build the protégé confidence.

Protégés are expected to:

  • Have the desire to learn, grow and succeed; the Mentor is not responsible for the protégé success!

  • Be open and honest with their mentor (e.g., identify existing skills, desired skills or opportunities, challenges, goals),

  • Be prepared to set and work towards goals agreed-to with their mentor,

  • Be willing to work hard as guided by their mentor,

  • Be willing to take risks and operate outside their comfort zone,

  • Be supportive of their mentor,

  • Respect their mentor’s time, knowledge and effort,

  • Be responsive (i.e., prompt response or action),

  • Disagree respectfully, and

  • Provide timely feedback to their mentor.

Mentorship relations are not meant to make the protégé a replica of the mentor; they are to help the protégé fully grow into his own professional or academic.

Presence and Contact methodology

This program recognizes that mentors and protégés need not be co-located in the same vicinity. Therefore, it accepts any agreement by the two to have their mentoring relationship unfold in person, or through any electronic means available to both of them (i.e., Email, texting, Skype, social media and so on).

Duration

Mentors and protégés are expected to commit to a minimum of two years. The frequency of their interaction may vary based on the needs, availability and circumstances of either member of that pairing, however CRHNet expects at least one contact per month. Experience with other mentorship programs shows the importance of face-to-face interactions. Both parties are encouraged to attend CRHNet symposium or other events, or arrange in-person such meetings as permitted given each member’s circumstances.

Process

While mentors and protégés are free to set up their relationship on their own, should they do so through this program, each needs to adhere to the procedure set below. Each has a right to withdraw at any time and are requested to advise CRHNet of their withdrawal.

Individuals interested in becoming mentors need to apply to CRHNet (through the Mentorship Program Coordinator) and identify their experience, knowledge base, qualifications, geographical location, areas of interest as a mentor, and preferences for a protégé. The latter may include protégé minimum qualification (academic or experiential), degree of professional exposure (neophyte, limited experience, or experienced), current field of practice, and gender preference (if any).

Protégés also need to apply and similarly identify their background and interests (in a two-page essay and a short application form), as well as their preferences or limitations (if any) regarding their mentor.

Potential mentors and protégés will be asked to identify whether they would be willing to have their application posted on the CRHNet website (www.CRHNet.ca). If approved by the applicant, applications received would be either posted on the web (the preferred approach), or held by the Mentorship Program Coordinator who will strive to match mentors and protégés based on information available through the application form.

As the first step in the process of matching mentors and protégés the Program Coordinator would consider what the two individuals identified they would prefer to avoid. For example, if a request is made for similar gender mentor/protégé then this would be the factor that may screen out one or the other member. Similarly, expressed restrictions of geography, academic background, operational environment, language, age difference, and so on would also be respected and mismatched pairing avoided.

Otherwise, mentors/protégés will be paired on as many of the following criteria as possible, in order of descending priority:

  • Academic background and interests,

  • Operational background or experience,

  • Organization/Industry (seeking similarity of exposure)

  • Geography (aiming to provide the closest proximity possible), and

  • Personal goals/objectives.

When a possible ‘match’ is made by the Mentorship Program Coordinator, the application of the protégé will be sent in confidence to the mentor who would be asked to ‘accept’ the protégé. If that application is turned down, it may be offered (as applicable) to another potential mentor. (This will occur one mentor at the time until a match is made.) If accepted, the mentor and protégé will be formally ‘connected’ by the Program Coordinator; a formal letter/Email of mentorship initiation will be sent to the mentor and protégé sharing the contact details of one with the other and re-emphasizing the program expectations.

The mentorship pairing, once achieved and accepted by both parties, will be posted on the CRHNet website along with a start month/date of that relationship. This will serve to identify the commitment of the two and also help to indicate whether these are current.

Evaluations

Once established, the mentor-protégé relationship is under the direct and complete control of the two until it is ended by either party. Ideally this program may well generate lifelong mutually-beneficial relationships. However, to ensure continued success of the program, the Mentorship Program Coordinator will send an annual reminder/check to both members of that pairing to garner a sense of the current state of the relationship, its successes, and potential learning point (i.e., best practices).

Forms

The following forms are part of this program:

Sharing and Retention of information

Names of mentors and their protégé will be posted on the CRHNet website. Applications by interested protégés or mentors will be shared in confidence with the mentorship partners. All other related information may be shared with the CRHNet Board on an as-needed basis.

All related documents will be destroyed along the following schedule: program:

  • immediately when an application or offer to mentor are withdrawn,

  • after two years of an application for mentorship being left unfulfilled, and

  • after a year of the relationship being inactive.

Questions, Complaints or Appeals

Any program-related questions (including feedback or suggestions) should be directed by Email to the Mentoring Program Coordinators, Dr. Ron Kuban and Melanie Goodchild.

Complaints or Appeals should be directed to the Program Coordinators, to the CRHNet President, or to both.

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