career guidance


Do you want to make a training for your colleagues, clients,..? Or do you coaches students during their workplace learning? Then this is the place to be. This section of the website includes all the information you need to make a training about mentorship! Furthermore, there are some tools available to take students to the next level in their growth process.

Students who attend a vocational, college or university education mostly learn a lot on the workplace. Not only by doing an internship one or more times during the training,  but also by doing shorter projects with companies. During these internships and projects, the student learns to apply and expand his knowledge and skills in practice. It is important that the school and the organisation invest in this learning process. In order for both parties to make an internship or a project a success, good preparation, a targeted plan and proper guidance is essential.

A trainee learns the best under the guidance of a mentor. It’s possible to have more than one mentor: one or more on the workplace, one in the school. The task of a mentor is to get the most out of a trainee, to let them grow. Therefore mentors need quite some competences. They have to be able to give constructive feedback, they should be able to reflect with the students, to coach, to make proper goals… But most important: they should be able to believe in the qualities of a trainee! Being a mentor is sometimes a tough, but always a beautiful job. It’s unlocking someone’s potential to maximize their growth!

This sections of the website contains guidelines to make a training about mentorship. This concrete action plan can be used by someone who wants to train the mentors and expand their competences and skills. The guidelines are divided into three different parts: before the training, during the training and after the training. As the name says, the guidelines include everything what a trainer has to prepare before the training, what he has to do during the training and what he has to do on the end and after a training.  Furthermore, those guidelines contains exercises about the competences mentors need to coach trainees and methods to work with the other toolkits.

The guidelines or not only useful for trainers. This section is also an added value for mentors themselves. As a mentor of trainees or new employees, you will find a lot of helpful information and checklists.



Reviews of the toolkit

I (Lene, Vormingsentrum HIVSET) organised a mentor training in Belgium, using the guidelines and the extra parts about the mentorship. I also integrated the other toolkits: exercises to empower and the personal development plan. These were some reactions:

“I really liked the mentor training. It was really practical and we can immediately use the exercises and theory when we have to coach students.” (Ann, 34 years)

“I’m going to use the personal development plan (PDP) tomorrow. I think it’s so useful to set goals with students and talk concretely about their internship.” (Martha, 24 years)

“Top training! I especially liked the part about the different ways of leadership. This part was something I can use with student, new colleagues,… I also think that the way how I talk with people (listening, feedback) is much better after these four days” (Stephanie, 42 years)

“I thought I was too old to learn but the way this mentor training was build, was amazing. We’ve learned a lot by practising and talking with the others. The trainer was also really great!” (Maria, 58 years)

“The games we did were amazing! We learned a lot about ourselves by playing this games and we can use all the games during our coaching.” (Tom, 34 years)

“Nice training, nice tools, nice exercises. Great!” (Lara, 25 years)

You are a trainer in a training company, an employee in any organisation (hospital, child care, school), a manager,… and you want to develop an in-house or open training for mentors? Then these guidelines might be helpful for you. It is important that every training course is preceded throughout preparation. So this section offers a number of tips to assist in this.

Profile of a mentor trainer
Profile of the target group
Location and timing
Plan your goals and make your programme
Meeting skills



1. Profile of a mentor trainer

The first step in the whole process is about you! Are you the right person in the right place? A good mentor needs the right skills, after all and you will train those mentors.

First of all, you will be the one who leads and guides others to develop new skills or knowledge that will enhance their job as a mentor. A designated level of professional skills and and knowledge about the mentor area is necessary, preferably combined with a touch of creativity and a lot of enthusiasm. Speaking from experience is an advantage, but not a must!

As a trainer, you will need the right presentation skills: being boring and unmotivated is not an option! A mentor has to be enthusiastic, so it’s important that you lead by example.

Since a trainer has to communicate information and prepare exercises to groups suited to the characteristics and needs of the audience, knowledge of human nature and flexibility are an added value. Dealing with resistance is another competence that can be useful during the training.

Furthermore you have to be able to design, develop and deliver the training program: planning and setting broad objectives for your training, searching for the best exercises for the audience,…

Your role is rather to facilitate the process of learning by the participants, to be an intermediary between new knowledge, fresh ideas and the group. Building a relationship with the participants is rather important.

Successful training – that which produces the desired result – lies almost entirely in the hands of the trainer. In the trainer’s hands lies the heavy responsibility for ensuring that the trainees achieve the maximum possible from the training.

Fits this profile with your profile? Hurry up then, your mentors are waiting for you!

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2. Profile of the target group

Every group is different

As a trainer, you will mostly work with groups. Every group is different, since every person is unique. Some of the attendees will have a lot of experience, some of them have probably never worked with trainees, some of them have a lot to share, some won’t say anything but just listen, some of them will learn by doing, others by reflection,… It’s up to you to choose the best training method that fits best for the participants.

The target group also depends on the kind of training:

  • open training: open trainings means that attendees from various companies may register. The training days and the program are fixed.
    For example: the trainer owns or rents a location and invites mentors or mentors-to-be from different companies. The mentors apply to the training and they can join.
    The advantage of an open training is that the attendees don’t know each other so they can learn a lot from each other and they way of mentoring of other companies.
  • In-house training: in-house training are developed in consultation with a company. The attendees are all working in the same company and the goals of a training are mostly set with the team leader.
    For example: as a trainer you go to a hospital and makes based on the expectations a mentor training for nurses.
    The advantage is that the attendees most of the times know each other. As a trainer it’s also easier to check what their goals are since there is consultation  before the training.

Sometimes you won’t be able to choose the target group, f.e. if a company ask you for a mentor training. But if you want to design an open training it’s possible to design a training for a beginning group, experienced group, mixed group,… Every group has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s up to you!

Just keep in mind that whichever group you train, try to discover their level and expectations. This will help you match the content of the course to the training requirements.



What about groupsize? Well, size does matter, at least as far as groups are concerned. In very small groups, the addition or loss of one member can of course make a radical difference to the group process. And larger groups need to be managed in quite different ways from smaller ones. The perfect size is maximum 15 people. But depending on the organisation or your own preference you can make the group smaller (or bigger).

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3. Choose the best location and time for your training

Ideally, the following conditions should be met in respect to the location for a training workshop:

  • The workshop should be held in a location away from the normal place of work of the participants. This is not a problem if you make an open training in your organisation.
  • The room used should be large enough to hold all participants comfortably.
  • Seating facilities should be comfortable
  • Since a training is interactive, make sure the trainees have enough place to work in small groups.

It is advisable to arrange the furniture so that the participants are able to face one another. This kind of set-up promotes open communication and the sharing of ideas.

Choose weather you want to go for a whole day training, more days, half a day, etc. Morning classes prove to be better for students, but combined with jobs, it is mostly easier for trainees to take an afternoon off.

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4. Plan your goals

Each training session should have a clear goals statement which introduces the concepts that will be delivered in the training, in general terms, an answer to the question “why is this session occurring?” In this mentor training the main goal is to prepare mentors for their mentorship. If you want them to let them discover the toolkits, the goal will be different.

The next step in developing a training program is to identify the learning objectives.

4.1. Learning objectives

Before you begin creating any training, it’s critical that you create a list of learning objectives.

Learning objectives are a list of things the trainees must be able to do after the training is completed. They are the main point that all aspects of your training should be pointed at. Once you’ve created your learning objectives, create content that covers the objectives—and nothing but. To (intentionally) overstate the point, learning objectives are the end-all and be-all of your training. Without objectives, you’ve got an out-of-control car without a driver.

There’s a lot to be said about learning objectives (and even more to be said). But here are a few tips.

They Can Address Knowledge, Skills, or Attitudes (KSAs):

A learning objective may address things that your learners can “know,” such as what’s the theory behind the feedback skills; skills that your learners can perform, such as giving feedback in roleplays to students; and attitudes that your employees can hold, such as the importance of giving good feedback to students. Knowledge, skills and attitudes are important.

Make them SMART:

When you write an objective, it should have five characteristics, known collectively by the acronym SMART. The objective should be Specific, meaning it’s very clearly stated and its meaning is equally apparent to everyone. It should be Measurable, meaning everyone can agree if the learner satisfies it or not. It should be Achievable, meaning the learner truly has a chance to satisfy it. It should be Relevant, meaning it’s important for the trainee’s job. And it should be Time-bound, meaning it will be clear when the learner must be able to satisfy the objective.

4.2 Make a good content and programme

Once you have cleared the goals and objectives, it’s necessary to make a good content. A content is a sequenced list of topics to be covered with an indication of the amount of time to be spent on each. A list of methods and materials should be developed to be used in covering the content topics. In a beginning mentor training, a lot of mentor skills should be added to this list. In more experienced groups, another content could be useful. While making a content, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be specific and address the needs of the participants.
  • Make a good variation of exercises. Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person’s preferred style. Since there are four different styles,  the target group will be a mix of assimilators or divergers, others will be convergers or accommodators.
  • Mix theory and practise. This is very important for two reasons. Firstly, it is difficult for people to listen to and to absorb purely abstract material for any length of time. Secondly, trainees are better able to absorb and remember new or difficult theory if they can see its practical relevance (even if only in a practice situation).
  • Do not attempt to evenly divide the time between all topic areas. Each topic should only be given the amount of time it will take to adequately cover the most important points.
  • Build in flexibility. Be prepared to spend more time on some topics if the need develops. Be aware, however, that this may reduce planned discussion in other areas.
  • Have reserve materials on hand (exercises, extra topics,..). Some groups may be very talkative and open while others are less fluent in participation.
  • Build in early participation. Involve the participants as early as possible in the program.

There are some questions you as a trainer should consider before planning the training session include:

  • What do I want to accomplish in this session?
  • What needs to be done with the group in order to reach the desired goal?


4.2.1. How to make a good training?

Introduction: A person’s first impressions of a training can shape his or her whole experience. That’s why every course begins with a round in which you introduce yourself to the trainees and vice versa. The objective is to create a pleasant and safe working environment. It is very important that you introduce yourself, giving some personal details about yourself. By doing so, you will immediately reduce the distance between you and the trainees and you will be setting a good example. You will also be contributing to the predictability and security of the situation. There are various ways in which to conduct the introductions. Whichever is adopted, it is important that everyone is brief and concise so that there is enough time to hear from everyone.

Once they know each other you can explain the goals of the training and the specific training methods for the given session (i.e. what is educational training and what are its features),… Also the programme is an important topic here.  After the introduction, you should present the training schedule laying out the following: session times, breaks, meals (if planned), etc.

It is advisable to include some additional time in the introduction exercise to adjust for the participants that are late. This time could be used to foster the group members’ familiarity with each other, and to speak about training objectives and its specifics.

If you want to know the expectations of the trainees, you are advised to add some expectations exercise. It is imperative for successful trainers to know in advance why participants come to this workshop and what knowledge base they have. At the beginning of the training, it’s still possible to change the programme. It’s also important here to describe the results. Clarifying the expected results of the training course helps participants overcome doubts, skepticism or hostility, and keeps participants motivated.

In this part of the training, it can be useful to set some ground rules together with the group. Or you ask what’s important for them. Or you can set the rules. The actual topics.

A good didactical model to develop a training programme is the model of Karin de Galan. The first step in her model is the “slide”. According to Karin De Galan, participants will be intrinsic motivated when they feel pain and confidence. The definition of pain is that they feel that they can do better.  In order to experience pain and give participants confidence, you can use the ‘slide’. This is a menu of three methods: to face, to reflect and introducing. When the trainees don’t have pain and they think that there way of acting is wonderful, then you have to face the truth, by starting with their own cases or another exercise like a role-play. Sometimes the trainees know already that they do something wrong, but they think they can’t change the situation, they don’t have enough confidence. Reflection is then important. If the trainees feel the pain and they have enough confidence then you can just introduce the topic. Most of the trainees will feel the pain, but don’t have enough confidence. Introducing the topics step by step is then relevant.

Once the trainees have done the slide, you can start with exercises. Present each time a short theory (or let them see movies, prepare active learning conversations,..) and then do exercises that increase in difficulty. The exercises should be challenging , but manageable. If participants experience a new success every time they learn something new, their confidence will grow.

The next three batters helps to work incrementally . The first step is to know the new rules and to reproduce them. For example, the phases of a bad news conversation, the “rules” of a feedback conversation,…Knowledge is the keypoint.

The second step is to understand the new knowledge. That means for example that participants who are dealing with the bad news conversation know how the “sandwich method” works: What do you say , how does the other reacts? If they understand the understand step, the theory starts to be alive. Those two steps are the bridge between theory and practise.

The final step is to practice with real life situations: doing a bad news conversation, give feedback to other colleagues, etc. This exercise is the core of each component. If you do not, the knowledge remains superficial and learning people end up nothing.

If there is a wider topic as feedback, that includes for example active listening, non-verbal communication, then it’s important that you start with one particular part, e.x. active listening (theory, step by step exercises, core exercise), nonverbal communication (theory, step by step exercises, core exercises,..) before you go to the big core exercise about the feedback conversation. Confidence is important! Therefore it’s also important to let them work is smaller subgroups. Most people are more confident in smaller groups as they are in bigger groups. Possible exercises

  • Energizers: An energizer is a brief activity that is intended to increase energy in a group by engaging them in physical activity, laughter, or in ways that engage the members cognitively (problem-solving). They can be used as a starter or during the training to make the participants more energetic.
  • Discussion: Discussion should play a major part in the training. Because of their life-experiences the trainees will be familiar with learning, even though they may never have analysed the process. Therefore the major task of the trainer is to plan a sequence of questions that will lead the trainees to an identification of the elements and steps in the learning process and the factors that hamper learning.
  • Movies and fragments: With a film of 2 minutes you can often tell more than with an explanation of a quarter. Moreover, you have immediately a great case study. You can use a fragment in three ways. By watching a fragment participants can:
    1. discover the theory ;
    2. to recognize the checklist or to make a checklist;
    3. to practice new behaviors (use the fragment as case).
  • Group exercises: Group exercises, as the names says, are exercises done in small or bigger groups. The main goal of these exercises is teamwork, reflection about the theory, gaining experience about a certain topics, etc.
  • Role playing: Role-plays and simulations are tools to help the participants in a training to understand and to apply (a piece of) the theory. A role-play simulates a real life situation (as much as possible). Participants are playing a well-designed role in which they have to apply the theory given to them by the trainer or solutions they themselves have brought up (Van den Boomen, J. & Berkvens, A.).

All the exercises must be used to make your instruction real and vital for your trainees. The number and types of training methods you use during any presentation depend on many factors, and you can therefore have answers to the following questions before you decide how you will present your material.

  • What is the ability and level of knowledge of the group?
  • How many trainees are in the group and why are they there?
  • What aids do you require?
  • Do you have the experience to use these aids with confidence?
  • Are you aware of the limitations of aids? Integration of Intervision/supervision

Intervision is a method in which smaller groups of participants with similar backgrounds exchange experiences without the guidance of a facilitator. The goal after the intervision is to use the knowledge again and to learn from the experience of others (colleagues, peers). In a training, intervision can be used to share cases etc.  It’s also possible to add another session after the training to share experience.

Supervision is usually an individual learning process, under the guidance of a supervisor. It’s a form of reflection on one’s own style of working. The focus in intervision is on learning and future situations. Supervision can be added as personal interviews with the participants in the training. Integration of “reunion”

A reunion is that moment when all the participants come back for a last training day. This reunion takes place with a couple of weeks or months later. The aim of a reunion is to get started with the insights and skills they’ve learned during the training. But another aim is to exchange experiences in their mentorship.  The reunion may primarily provide a forum for all participants who worked with what they flared during the mentor program. Based on their experiences, case studies can be discussed, solutions can be searched for practical problems, discussion about the results after the training, etc. Part of this reunion might be intervision, but it’s up to you as a trainer to choose the best

4.3. Prepare any visuals aids and material you may need

Once you have the content and methods, you can think about visual aids and material. During the training, use the chalkboard or paper to write down pertinent information, to track ideas or opinions, answers to questions or, to draw schemes and note definitions.  Recording information on paper helps reinforce the key points and allows for summarizing the material covered.  It is important to keep most recorded information posted around the room for the participants and the facilitator to refer to throughout the training session.

When you have to talk and write at the same time, the group may concentrate more on what he or she writes than what you say. Remember, written information should only reinforce what is being said, not vice versa.

As a trainer, you can also use Powerpoint. Powerpoint is a good program to use for a presentation because it allows the listeners to have a visual of the subjects the speaker is talking about. It also gives the speaker a reference point for the subjects that make up the majority of the presentation.

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5. Debriefing

Participating in a training without a debrief is like attending a football match and not engaging in a conversation about the match afterwards.  To maximize the impact of each training conduct a debrief. This involves the trainer facilitating a conversation and reflection about what took place during the day and then having the participants relates observation and insights from the game to the workplace.

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6. Evaluation

Why should you bother to evaluate the training? Well, there are a lot of reasons:

  • It will help you improve training for future participants.
  • It will help you confirm that you’re getting your training right.
  • It will help you prove that the training is adding value.

Evaluation of training can be separated into two primary categories:

  • Formative: Occurs while the training is being designed, developed, and delivered. Allows trainers to determine what needs to change in their training plans and delivery
  • Summative: Usually completed immediately after training is conducted to evaluate the extent to which learners enjoyed and believed they received valuable learning. Can also be conducted over the course of weeks or months after training.

As a trainer, you can evaluate yourself as a trainer, or the participants can evaluate you as a training and your training. They can also make an action plan for themselves.

If the participants evaluate the training, the training should be assessed at different levels of evaluation in order to determine its overall effectiveness:

  • Level 1: Did the participants enjoy the training?
  • Level 2: Did the participants believe they learned something from the training?
  • Level 3: Did the training influence how learners perform in their jobs?
  • Level 4: Did did the training impact the larger organization?
  • Level 5: Was the training cost-effective?

Self Evaluation can be seen as a moment of reflection. What have I done right, what could be better in the next training, etc. This is something what you have to do after every session.

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7. Meeting skills

7.1.1. Make sure you have the right training skills

Active listening: Active listening is the key skill for a trainer. Listening has at least three different stages: hearing, interpreting, and recalling.

  1. Hearing: the physical action of the sound on our ear
  2. Interpreting: interpreting the message from the words that we hear, the tone and inflection of the voice, as well as the person’s facial expressions and body movements. We also make interpretations dependent upon our own experiences in life.
  3. Recalling: registering the message and recalling it later in the conversation.

Active listening involves all three of these processes and means you need to:

  1. Give your complete attention to the other person or people for a specific period of time
  2. Forget any preoccupations you may have
  3. Suspend your judgement about what they are saying
  4. Listen to the feeling behind the words and reflect it to the group using phrases like; “it sounds as if you are very angry about that, is that right?”
  5. Listen to the silence and what it means; is it a comfortable or an angry silence?
  6. Watch for any non-verbal clues from group members; they will help let you know when someone is disinterested, shy, anxious, domineering, bored, angry, or open etc.

Speak only when need to: while facilitating, knowing when to speak from your own knowledge or experience on the topic/scenario without ego getting in the way, and causing you to pontificate. Knowing when to encourage someone else to speak from their experience, that which might throw some light on the situation even if this person has not spoken before.

Be comfortable challenging others

Knowing when to challenge an individual or group in a safe and contained manner.

Be authentic: It’s very important to be yourself…not thinking you have to be someone else when standing in front of a group.

Your use of words: The language you use should be pitched at the right height for the intended listeners. If you pitch your message “too high”: i.e. too technical, for a non-technical audience, then you will lose their interest. But if you pitch your message too low; too simplistic for a technical audience, you will infuriate them;

Your body language: Your body language should demonstrate sufficient energy and enthusiasm to engage the in interest of the audience.  You should not overdo the energy levels so as to appear over excited: nor should you fall short, so as to appear to be sluggish or bored with your own material. You should dress in a manner which will fit in with the accepted norms of the audience type. Your dress should not become an issue: it should not distract from your message. Dress in a manner that is “functionally tidy “relative to your audience expectations.

Your voice tones: Your voice tones should be pacey, deeper than your normal tones, and slightly louder than your normal voice. You should make your voice variable i.e. NOT monotone.

7.1.2. Dealing with disturbances

Group dynamics are the processes that occur between group members. These dynamics are affected by each member’s internal thoughts and feelings, their expressed thoughts and feelings, their nonverbal communication, and the relationship between group members. Group dynamics can be positive, but it can be though when things are not going as expected.  Overthinking all the possible challenges makes you better prepared. In this section you can find some challenges to overcome (Learning Consultancy Partnership, August 2011).

Challenge:Those who dominate group discussion and activities.

This is a very common problem during training workshops and it can lead to the quieter delegates holding back their ideas, not getting actively involved and ultimately learning less.
Solutions: Trainers must not be afraid to redirect the discussion by waiting for a pause and saying “Thanks for your comments Jane… it would be interesting to hear other perspectives on this, did anyone else have any views?” When repeating the question, trainers should ensure they make eye contact with other delegates to encourage them to get involved. During group work and role play activities the dominant members could be given roles with less speaking. If one individual continues to dominate then trainers should avoid continuing to pick them out but instead remind the whole group that a range of opinions are needed. If the problem continues, it may be necessary to take them aside during a break.

Challenge: Group is enthusiastic but tends to drift from the topic.

It can be common for talkative groups to drift off-topic or even continue private conversations whilst the rest of the group continues. This can distract part of the group, waste time and make the learning outcomes less clear.
Solutions: Trainers should take control of the situation whilst politely and tactfully steering the conversation back on topic – if delegates are particularly animated about one area, the trainer could offer to put time aside at the end of the session to return to it (training should be designed so that a certain amount of flexibility is possible). Similarly, if the delegates move onto a topic that will be later covered, the trainer should thank the delegate, move on and acknowledge their contribution when appropriate later on in the session. It can also be helpful to put together some basic rules in terms of interruptions and private conversations at the beginning of the session, or at least introduce the structure of the training 2 session, how much time will be spent on each area and what learning outcomes will be achieved. As with other problems, avoid repeatedly singling an individual out – instead repeat the rules or that it’s necessary to stay on topic. In order to speak with individuals, or if delegates seem distracted, you could consider a short break.

Challenge: Lack of engagement from the whole group.

Even the best and most experienced of trainers will have to deal with this problem occasionally, with each group of delegates responding differently. Whilst not necessarily the trainer’s fault, it is important for them to assess why delegates haven’t responded.
Solutions: The first step is simply to reword the question in case it was unclear, then to consider whether it is a question that delegates may be uncomfortable answering. Occasionally, delegates may have got the point quicker than the trainer expected and the trainer should move on. If they need to elicit more information from the delegates they can try to do this through a later different question. Other problems could be that delegates are bored and need a different type of activity, or that they are still uncomfortable and the training has had an insufficient warm up. Trainers should also be aware that they may need to ask for less personal information from certain groups, and there maybe interpersonal issues they’re unaware of (see below).

Challenge: Interpersonal conflict.

Conflict arising between members of a group can upset individuals, distract the other delegates, and if left to continue cast a negative light upon the whole training session.
Solutions: Depending on the seriousness of the conflict, the trainer could try to distract from it with humour or a change of subject. Sometimes, it may be more appropriate to call a break and take the delegates aside, or ask them to leave the session if necessary. Regardless of the appropriate response, the trainer should respond immediately – drawing attention to an individual’s rudeness or inappropriate behaviour can often be enough to draw a halt to it.

Challenge: Sensitive subject areas.

A group’s response can vary based on their cultural background, experiences and relationships with each other. However well the trainer plans the session and prepares for possible problems, it can be near impossible to predict where sensitivities may lie.
Solutions: If it is necessary for the training session to approach sensitive areas, then the facilitator should prepare delegates for this at the beginning. It is also important not to neglect light-hearted warm up activities to relax delegates, rather than beginning by approaching sensitive areas. Always test questions with others before facilitating a session to see how it could be changed and to plan for possible problems. Sometimes breaks can provide a chance to speak to individuals, allow them to air any upsets and make it clear they’re not being ignored. Finally, trainers must always be prepared to adapt, move or change either the subject or activities, according to the group’s response.

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  • Learning Consultancy Partnership, August 2011, Train the Trainers, Issue 11.
  • http://effectivetraining.org/files/Training%20for%20Trainers.pdf
  • http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/svaw/advocacy/whrtraining/guidelines/structure.htm
  • http://www.iaapa.org/docs/2013-iae-handouts/monday_organizational-training-programs_training-game.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  • http://docplayer.nl/1691128-De-mentor-van-morgen-handvat-voor-het-ontwerpen-van-een-mentorenopleiding.html


After reading the part “before the training”, you know already how to build a training. This part of the guidelines is all about the mentor training itselfs, the content. You can find some theory, exercises and checklists to use in your mentor training. Time to make the best out of your programme! You can click on the following topics to get some more information about the content:

1. Getting started

When holding a training or any other gathering it is important for everyone to stretch their social muscles in order to engage in the event with the proper positive attitude about the activity. “Ice-breakers” and similar activities are some of the best ways to help everyone loosen up a bit while helping participants get to know each other and they raise the energy level. These types of activities are always a bit awkward and perceived as somewhat “lame.” As a leader of any of these activities, be sure to acknowledge the “lame-ness” while being fully committed to joining in the fun.


1.1 Getting Acquainted


People Bingo
Make a five by five grid, like a bingo card on a several cards. Fill in the center space as a free space. Fill all the other spaces in with things such as: “born in a different state,” “youngest child in family,” “fan of __(band)__,” etc. All participating are to obtain a signature of one person from the group on each of the spaces to which the category applies. You may want to make a rule that a person may sign another person’s card in no more than two spots. The first person to have a completed card wins.

Fact or fiction
Start out by having every team member secretly write down two truths about themselves and one lie on a small piece of paper – Do not reveal to anyone what you wrote down! Once each person has completed this step, allow 10-15 minutes for open conversation – much like a cocktail party – where everyone quizzes each other on their three questions. The idea is to convince others that your lie is actually a truth, while on the other hand, you try to guess other people’s truths/lies by asking them questions. Don’t reveal your truths or lie to anyone – even if the majority of the office already has it figured out! After the conversational period, gather in a circle and one by one repeat each one of your three statements and have the group vote on which one they think is the lie. You can play this game competitively and award points for each lie you guess or for stumping other players on your own lie. This game helps to encourage better communication in the office, as well as it lets you get to know your co-workers better.

Players stand in a circle, facing in, and one volunteers to be the locomotive. The locomotive chugs around the inside of the circle a bit before stopping to exchange introductions with one of the players in the circle: “Hi, I’m Mary.” “Hi, I’m Bob.” Mary the locomotive repeats Bob’s name then cheers “Bob! Bob, Bob, Bob! While alternately raising her arms and extending her legs like a semaphore. Mary then turns around, and Bob puts his hand on her waist and becomes the caboose. They chug to another player to introduce themselves. “Hi, I’m Charlie!” says their choice. Each of them repeat Charlie’s name and do the semaphore cheer “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!” Then Bob becomes the locomotive, Mary puts her hands on his hips, and Charlie becomes the caboose, and they all go to meet another car!

Grab bag:
Materials needed: Grab bag with at least 30 different small items.
Prior to the session the trainer collects an assortment of items in a grocery bag. (Items might include a rubber band, pin cushion, kitchen utensils, hand cream, desk and office supplies, fishing line, etc….. )

  • Participants blindly reach into the grab bag and select an item.
  • Individually, they explain to the group how that item in some way reflects their personality.


1.2 Energizers


Energizers are used to get a group moving, give a break from long periods of sitting down, and excite a group about the next portion of a program. Use them in small doses to rejuvenate a group after lunch or first thing in the morning.

Waking up in the  jungle
Description: • Ask people to think of their favorite animal and its noise. • They then pretend that they are that animal waking up. • As they wake up, the noises should get louder and sillier. • A good quick game for sleepy groups

Head’s up!
Description: In a circle, people look at ground. • When you say “heads up”, they have to look into someone else’s eyes. • If two people are looking at each other, they scream (or just admit that they were looking at each other)  and are both out.

Description: • Delegates stand or sit in a circle. • Instruct them to count out loud consecutively and around the circle. • Each delegate whose number is a multiple of 3 (3-6-9-12, etc.) or a number that ends with 3 (13-23-33, etc.) must lift their arms and say “BOOM!” instead of the number. • The next person continues the normal sequence of numbers. • Anyone who fails to say “BOOM!” or makes a mistake with the number that follows “BOOM!” is disqualified. • To make things even more difficult, reverse from e.g. 30.

Earthquake and Eviction:
Description: one person alone to start, rest of group in threesomes, with two people making house of hands and one person standing underneath. Lone person calls either “eviction”, in which everyone in a house must leave and find new one, or “earthquake”, in which all houses collapse and everyone must form new threesomes of house and resident. Either way, lone person tries to get into one of the threesomes, so person left over becomes new “caller”.

Description: group in circle. Rules: choose someone in circle to be your assassin without informing them. Also choose a bodyguard without informing. To stay alive, must keep bodyguard between you and your assassin.When leader yells “freeze”, check if alive or dead.

Pulse Race:
Description: in two lines, holding hands. Everyone has eyes closed except leader of each line. A beach ball or other object is placed at opposite end of lines from leaders. Facilitator stands by leaders and flips a coin. If tails, do nothing. If heads, leaders start pulse race by squeezing hand of person next to them, which sets off chain reaction. When last person in line feels hand squeezed, he/she may open eyes and grab for beach ball.Whichever team gets ball first each round gets a point. After each round, leader goes to end of line.

Once the beginning is made, it’s easier to let the participants participate in the training and concerning the mentor topics. There are different stages in the training, but also in a mentorship. First the mentor has to know himself before he can an actual mentor. Furthermore he need some skills to coach the students.

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2. Mentor in the mirror (self reflection)

Breaking from the acquired frame of reference is one first topics to describe in the mentor training. Each mentor has his own frame of reference, which is made up of knowledge and experience. This is your glasses, with which you look at the world. The glasses are colored by for example your own culture, education and experience, which determine the norms and values of a person.
The fact remains that few people think about their values and about who they are. One consequence is that people, when they think about the values of others, use themselves as benchmark. This has much to do with ignorance. In the training, mentors must first be aware of their own frame of reference, the tasks of a mentor, their own qualities,.. before starting with the main mentoring competences.

Profile of a mentor

The expectations regarding the mentor may differ a little bit from school to school and from organisation to organisation. It is advisable to read the training guide, the competence profile and all the other documents before the internship starts. Then you make sure what you have to do. Obviously, the core competences of a mentor or the same for every mentor. Each mentor should eventually have to possess the following competencies: Observation and evaluation, feedback, active listening, coaching, encouraging, situational leading,… The explanation of this may be the start of your theoretical part.

The tasks of the mentor depend on the job description which most of the school sets out.

✏  Compare the description of a mentor in an organisation and in a school. Create a job description in small groups with expectations, tasks …
Discuss also about the competences which are necessary as a mentor.

2.1 Profile of a mentor

What does a mentor do? Well, listening actively with interest, holding the focus on the mentee’s agenda. Managing the framework of the mentoring sessions, while encouraging the mentee to take responsibility for the content. Taking appropriate approaches such as robustly challenging a mentee who is not sufficiently focussed or sympathising in the event of bad experiences while encouraging the mentee to take ownership and respond appropriately  Helping the mentee to see the bigger and longer term picture if he or she is concerned only about the present and the short term future. Giving feedback. Helping a mentee to reframe how he or she views something, or to consider a different perspective, for example a tutor who may need to consider a student’s perspective; an author of a paper who may need help with understanding an editor’s viewpoint. Taking an interest in the mentee’s progress.

A mentor also need some values.

Mentoring is based on self-direction
Mentors have to work with the experiences of the mentee,  instead of working their own experiences. The situation of the mentee is the starting point.

Mentoring just ask dignity
An equal relationship between the mentor and mentee works best. They both have to use their own input to achieve the best results for the mentee.

Consciousness is the basis of self-direction
If someone is not aware of his own actions, he can not be reflect about this action. And if there cannot be reflect, the person can not improve systematically.

Trust in the potential of people
Importantly, it is based on positive reinforcement and empowerment of young people. In the training here is particularly emphasized in the section ‘work on confidence in the mentee’ to give, for example, by positive feedback and devise tasks which the mentee in a good way could play a certain role. Importantly, or to find out what is going on with the mentee and what his / her motivation.

Listening, giving feedback, making observations, motivating, coaching,…

Of course, a mentor is more than just a person who guide the trainees. A mentor is also a coach and has a lot of similarities with the career coach. More information in the toolkit about career guidance →  Career coach

2.1.1 Core quadrants

The second step is to know your strengths and weaknesses.  The core quadrant or quadrant of Ofman is a model to describe characteristics of a person and it can be used in different ways. The core quadrant is about four terms: core quality, pitfall, allergy and challenge. First of all, it’s important that you can search after your qualities and pitfall, but you can also use it to give feedback, to see the positive mark in somebody, etc.  The core quadrants have often to do with values. Values that people consider as important, are often core qualities

Core Qualities: Core qualities, according to creator Daniel Ofman, are key qualities, specific strengths that characterize someone.  They are also the positive points that another will notice about you. For example, helpfulness might be your key strength. Everyone has core qualities.

Pitfalls: These qualities turn into a trap if you pull the long bow. Qualities are thus placed on a continuum. You may have a certain degree of helpfulness, yet further down the continuum it can become meddlesomeness. Your quality becomes a weakness and the environment will not recognize or value your original quality but mostly see your pitfall.

Allergy: the pitfall of another: If another person is way up on his continuum, you probably get irritated.  Such an allergy is often associated with a quality of yourself. If you are very helpful, you can be immensely disturbed by people who remain indifferent. However, if you consider that under the allergy lies a core quality of the other, the story is suddenly very different.

Challenge: the quality of one another: The good thing is that typically for those who are allergic to it, the quality behind this allergy can be a major challenge. Do you qualify someone’s behavior simply as indifferent, or can you see that underneath it, he has a core quality of independence. Chances are that you need to develop that quality more. So you can learn a lot from those people who annoy you most!

To know your qualities, but also your pitfall is an important first step as a mentor. If you know already that you are responsive (quality), but you know you mother sometimes because you think that’s the best way to guide students (pitfall), then you can take this into account. Making your own core quadrants may help you.

✏ Let the mentors make their own core quadrant to discover their qualities and pitfalls as a mentor. Another option is to play the quality quartet with the quality game. Put the participants together in small groups to discuss the outcomes.

2.1.2 Learning styles of Kolb

Another useful theory to discover who you are as a mentor are the learning styles of Kolb.

David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984 from which he developed his learning style inventory. Kolb’s experiential learning theory works on two levels: a four stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles.   Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person’s preferred style.  For example, social environment, educational experiences, or the basic cognitive structure of the individual. Every mentor and every trainee have their own learning style. Every learning style also means that you have a specific way to teach and coach others. It’s important to know your style and to adapt your style to the trainee.

Choose a test and let the mentors discover their way of learning. Let them think about the advantages and disadvantages and how they will integrate this theory in their coaching. This may be an individual exercise or a group exercise.

→ Example of a test and more information about the different learning styles: Learning styles Kolb – test

2.1.3 Awareness of your own communication skills

On a daily basis, we work with people who have different opinions, values, beliefs and needs than our own. Our ability to exchange ideas with others, understand others’ perspectives, solve problems and successfully utilize the steps and processes presented in this part will depend significantly on how effectively we are able to communicate with others. The act of communication involves verbal, nonverbal and paraverbal components.

The verbal component refers to the contact of our message, the choice and arrangement of our words. The nonverbal refers to the content of our message we send through our body language. The paraverbal component refers to how we say what we say – the tone, pacing and volume of our voices. In order to communicate effectively, we must use all three components to do two things:

  • send clear, concise messages
  • Hear and correctly understand messages someone is sending us

Verbal communication is a form of communication in which you use words to interchange the information with other people.

Verbal communication coexists alongside non-verbal communication, which can affect people’s perceptions and exchanges in subtle but significant ways. Non-verbal communication includes body language, such as gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and posture. Touch is a non-verbal communication that not only indicates a person’s feelings or level of comfort, but illustrates personality characteristics as well.
Be aware of your own basic communication. Eye contact, friendly messages, a quiet tone of your voice, etc, makes it easier to start with a coaching process.

First impression
It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed. Be aware of your own first impression. It’s not a good start if you complain about your job, if  you are quite unfriendly, if you have the worst communication techniques ever… but also know that the first impression of a trainee may be influenced by stress etc. So try to be open minded, without preconceptions and give them a second chance if they need it.

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3. Stages in mentorship

Once you know who you are as a mentor, you can start coaching and you can start with the coaching process. This coaching process has different stages.

3.1 Welcome the student

Make the student feel welcome is one of the first, but most important steps, of a mentorship.

  • Make time (Let students start at a moment when it’s a little bit more calm in the organisation – not during rush hour)
  • Show them the organisation (guided walk)
  • Give them information about the team, the working hours, habits, the toilets,…
  • Show interest
  • Give them the information that this internship is a place where they can learn and where they can make mistakes
  • ….

Don’t give them too much information. It’s better to give more information on the second day than giving all the information at once. It’s the first day of the students and they might be a little bit nervous. Some organisations do have a map with more information. Others give students and trainees a little notebook to make notes.

Before giving this part of theory you can give the participants two questions:

  • What do you have to do to welcome a trainee?
  • What can you NOT do when you welcome a trainee?
3.2 Developing rapport and building trust

One definition describes trust as a “reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Think about that definition for a moment. Trust means that you rely on someone else to do the right thing. You believe in the person’s integrity and strength, to the extent that you’re able to put yourself on the line, at some risk to yourself. Trust is essential to an effective relationship between mentor and trainee, because it provides a sense of safety. When both feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable to open up, take appropriate risks, and expose vulnerabilities.

Strategies of building trust:

  • Lead by example
  • Communicate openly
  • Mistakes are okay
  • Be authentic

✏ This topic is important to mention in the training. Either by exercises or by discussing experiences. Possible questions in a discussion:

  • When can you trust a person?
  • What are the qualities of someone who’s trustable?
3.3 Setting and reaching goals  

Goal-setting helps the trainee to strive to achieve. Although goal-setting may be challenging, it is generally worthwhile. The intention of goal-setting is to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Goal setting is one of the things you can do during the first week, but also after a couple of weeks more. As a mentor you can check if they’ve reached the goals and make some new goals or revise the older ones.

Hellriegel, Slocum, and Woodman & Martens (1992) (1987) find the following to be the most important purposes of goal-setting:

  • Goals guide and direct behavior.
  • Goals provide clarity.
  • Goals provide challenges and standards.
  • Goals reflect what the goal setters consider important. • Goals help improve performance.
  • Goals increase the motivation to achieve.
  • Goals help increase menteeís pride and satisfaction in his/her achievements.
  • Goals improve menteeís self-confidence.
  • Goals help decrease negative attitude.

Trainees have to reach the school goals, but some of the goals may be specific for organisations themselves. As a mentor you have to check out the goals and you’ll have to figure out the best way to reach the goals with the specific trainee. Sometimes it’s important to make subgoals if you discover that there are some difficulties in the learning process of the trainee.

Goals make it easy to provide feedback. Setting the goals and figuring out how you will help the trainee by achieving this goals, may be one of the most important tasks of a mentor.

How do you set a goal?
A useful way of making goals is the use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants, SMART usually stands for:

  • S – specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound.

“Taking more initiative” is, according to SMART, NOT a good goal. It’s more powerful to use the SMART-goal: “I’m going to give two inputs during the meeting the next two weeks” or “I’m going to make a list with important tasks by next friday and while I don’t know what to do, I’m going to take this list and do some tasks”.

Another thing that’s very important when setting SMART goals, is formulating it POSITIVELY. Remember that what you focus on, increases. So when you focus on NOT doing something, all you think about is that thing. And it will increase. So don’t ‘stop procrastinating’, but ‘achieve a daily discipline’.

You as a mentor can set goals, but it’s better to give feedback about a competence and give the student instructions to set his own goals. It’s also possible to make a POP (personal development plan). For more information, check the tool about career guidance. → Personal development plan.

✏ Make a bucket list and set goals with SMART (doesn’t have to be job related)
✏ Work with cases and ask the participants which will be good goals for their trainees.

3.4 Focus on the learning process

Once the student is started, it’s time to focus on the proces. Mentors need a lot of competences. To evaluate the student you have to observe, give feedback, listen, reflect with the student,…

During the process, two kinds of conversations between mentor and trainee are important: feedback conversations and evaluation conversations. There has to be a lot of feedback, otherwise trainees cannot learn and in an evaluation, it’s not very professional to give feedback trainees never heard before.

What’s the difference between both? Feedback is information that illustrates the effect of behaviour in light of some goal and that the performer can use to improve future performances. Feedback is about the learners perceptions and beliefs about his or her performance. It is information about the consequences of behaviour, information that helps trainees to grow, to set goals,… it is interactive, it’s a real conversation between people. Feedback is always about changeable behaviour

Evaluation is more about the performance in stead of the performer. It’s about what a trainee has already done after a couple of weeks and what he/she has reached after the internship.

For both conversations, the competences of a trainee (based on the competence profile) are important.

Feedback can be given everyday, while evaluations suppose to happen every four weeks.  In both conversations process and product are necessary.

✏ Group discussion:

  • What’s the best way to do both conversations?
  • Which are the difficulties,…?
  • What’s the best way to say that a trainee is not competent enough for the job?
3.5 Closure

All good mentoring relationships come to an end! After a couple of weeks or months you should ask yourself if it is time to conclude the mentoring relationship. By this time the trainee has probably advanced sufficiently and achieved their mentoring goals. It is also quite possible that through the mentoring relationship, career goals may have changed.

Mentees may be comfortable moving on independently and may no longer need this support. Once you have decided to conclude the relationship, take time to discuss the following:

  • What results have been delivered, including any unexpected outcomes?
  • What has not been delivered and why not? What are the future development needs of the mentee?
  • Possibly your mentoring relationship will develop into a broad friendship. You may see your meetings become less frequent and less focused, but more spontaneous and relaxed. You may decide to enter a new mentoring relationships.

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4. Mentor skills

Last but not least, a mentor needs a lot of skills to become a mentor. In this last part of this section, you’ll find some theory and exercises about the topics written below.

After reading this all, you might be overwhelmed by all the information. In this section you’ll find some PowerPoint presentations that may help you in building your own training!