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Mentoring: advice for businesses;Mentoring

Establish aims and objectives - what does your company hope to gain from mentoring?

* Identify target groups - do you want to build links to address specific future skill shortages?

* Think in terms of developing your own staff. Mentoring can be a worthwhile tool for employee development.

* Adopt a structured approach. Mentoring should fit with the company's development plans.

* Think long-term. Remember that mentoring is not a quick fix.

* Recruit and train mentors. Match mentors with individual mentees or groups. Mentors should not be press-ganged.

* Use special procedures when dealing with children or vulnerable groups such as low achievers.

* Invest time. You have to prepare properly and lay out clearly defined boundaries.

* Decide if the mentoring should be linked to the curriculum and the company's business. If so, work with the school to devise appropriate programmes.

* Set targets. It is important for the relationship to have a focus.

* Get advice. Education business partnerships and training and enterprise councils can provide invaluable help.

* Keep a narrow focus. Do not attempt a scattergun approach.

* Monitor progress. It is important to have a third party monitoring the relationship to nip any problems in the bud.

* Evaluate the programme. Ask yourself what mentoring is yielding for your company.

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