Build strong relationships
After you've made a mentorship match, get the ball rolling by calling the first meeting. Then schedule regular meetings every
two to four weeks for about an hour. This provides the pair with a structure they can follow and keeps the relationship from
atrophying. Continue offering support and accountability by requesting proof of meetings, providing assistance if the relationship
isn't productive, and switching mentors and mentees as needed.
For the first several meetings, provide specific conversation topics. Eventually mentoring pairs will need to self-direct
their discussions, so it's a good idea to offer a list of general conversation ideas and let them choose discussions that
best benefit their relationship. (See "Sample conversation guide".)
SAMPLE Conversation guide
At the end of a period, such as three, six, or 12 months, let mentors and mentees continue the relationship on their own or
seek a mentoring relationship with someone new. While it's important for you to help establish new relationships, the goal
is to teach employees how to develop mentoring relationships on their own.
Dr. Brent Cook, co-owner of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, says shadowing has been an effective mentoring tool at his practice.
"It's a great experience to see how other doctors handle their appointments and communicate with clients," he says. "It's
also valuable to see how the technicians set up appointments before the doctors enter the room. Watching other doctors and
team members at work is a critical learning tool at our practice."
Dr. Caylor agrees. "When I was mentoring an associate who was interested in orthopedic surgery, I encouraged him to find a
few moments to scrub in at any point during a procedure," he says. "I also made sure I was available to consult with him about
cases. Most important, he had to be motivated to want to learn, not have me spoon-feed him the process at every step."
Mentoring can energize your team, give the practice a recruitment edge, shorten employee learning curves, increase employees'
job satisfaction and loyalty, and improve productivity and work quality. If the relationship is properly managed, both sides
will benefit and the practice can merge past and present into a better future.
Denise Tumblin, CPA, is a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and president of Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates in Columbus, Ohio. Helen Hoekstra is a
financial and valuation analyst at Wutchiett Tumblin. Please send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org