Mentoring - Good Practice

 

Best Practice, Priorities and Issues for Developing

A summary of some points developed at the District Mentor’s Meeting, 3rd March 2009

  • Meetings with the brethren to discuss mentoring are likely to be very beneficial, well attended and a useful means to engage them and see what they think - what are their ideas?. This needs to be continued and developed. To make the most of them:
    • Ensure such meetings include the time to have a reasonable conversation that allows people to talk freely about their fears and most importantly their successes; this has proved to be very beneficial.
    • It is vital that we need to develop a degree of positive thinking and not constantly dwelling on everything being bad. This affects the atmosphere in the Lodge and does not help in fostering a good atmosphere for new members
    • The group needs to consider:
      • Good practice already being used
      • Bad practice that has stopped and how this was managed
      • What is stopping the Lodge further developing mentoring practices
    • Have a basic agenda or at least know what objectives need to be reached by the end of the meeting
    • Keep it simple and try to achieve small things over a regular period rather than frighten everyone with jobs that appear to be too tasking or involved
    • Try to stress the importance of mentoring..
  • Not all Lodge members are aware of what mentoring is about. Therefore:
    • Try to have a Mentor's report as a standing item on the Summons concerning what you have been doing or what suggestions you have. In this way:
      • It can assist in underlining that Mentoring is aimed at new members initially, but it is a practice that encompasses all members and maintaining their interest
      • A suggestion is that the Lodge Mentor has a deputy to look after the ‘established’ members
        • This should help counter those who hold the view that Mentoring is only for Lodges where they have candidates.
        • Older members are also resigning and one reason is that they see no benefit in attending because of the routine of doing nothing other than open/close/eat!
        • Demonstrations, ritual explanations, mini-lectures and Q&A are just as enjoyable and moreover, aimed at lodges without ‘real’ candidates
      • We can sell the positive benefits of using the new materials in Lodge because
        • It makes the meetings more enjoyable
        • It gives the Lodge something to do
        • It does not entail committing anything to memory; there is no reason why some members should then need to be worried
  • It is clear that a lot of new members are eager to engage outside their lodges in educational/developmental activities.
    • Consider bringing new members (up to 5 years membership say) together into any District Groups that the District Mentor sets up or to private meetings involving just them:
    • Showcase the materials to engage interest
    • Encourage Personal/Lodge Mentors to come along initially but after that, it should just be for the newer members so they are not dominated by older members taking over!
    • Allow plenty of time for Q&As
    • Organise guest speakers on charity, ritual, anything that will equip them better and fill in their knowledge needs
  • Hosted meetings where the APGM/APGP meets newer members after the meeting to discuss their issues and questions have been shown to be very beneficial and a good spring board to then organise/get support from newer members for them to come together as a group as District level
  • Where possible, try to get all members to consider putting together their own presentations/lectures and not just deliver them in their lodge, but offer them to others in their area and submit them for Provincial use
  • Uuse some of the lectures on Mentoring to raise your profile in lodge: ‘Small Steps’ is a useful one for this
  • Best practice (the simple stuff) that Lodge Mentors need to concentrate on includes:
    • Sitting with new members both in Lodge and at the Social Board
    • Always accompanying them out of the lodge if required to retire
    • Where you have the newer members (!) re-constitute Junior Practices with newer brethren and ONLY the DC and Mentor present to focus on basic Masonic routine and etiquette
    • Have one nominated person in the lodge who is the prompter and stop the practice of several people constantly chipping in during ceremonies
  • If Mentoring is the focus of everything we do, a brief should be provided for all the District Team for them to take to every meeting for when they talk
  • Ask the Lodge to continually consider the issue of who is the right person to be the PERSONAL MENTOR for a new member
    • It should be about matching them so the most appropriate person is doing it
    • Having somebody take on the role who is not the proposer or seconder does not usurp them, but adds in resilience and value
  • Lodges need to start thinking about feeding back how things are going. They cannot carry on living in a Masonic bubble. Unless you tell the DM how well/not so well it is going, it is impossible for him to support you
  • Ask newer members out with the proposer/seconder/mentor or all three of you, should be the norm and expected
  • Sit down with new members OUTSIDE of lodge meetings to go through handbooks, welfare and progress
  • Seek suggestions and ideas from lodge members on what they think you need to be doing in support of the 3R’s and feed these back to the District Mentor
  • Set up an email circulation list for Lodge members so that it minimises work in disseminating material. This also needs to capture those who do not have such facility so that they are not ostracised
  • A Mentor is somebody who facilitates, liaises, counsels and advises. He does not direct, instruct, compel or pressurise otherwise it panders to those who use the response that they refuse to be told what to do; they need to see the value and that comes from spreading the good news of how successful others have been who have bought into mentoring, which indirectly highlights the failings of those who have not!
  • Telephone contact with lodge members can be valuable and less time consuming
  • Lodge mentors need to ‘get into’ their own lodge members and raise their own profiles
  • If every meeting has not contained at least one advancement in Masonic knowledge you should be questioning if it has actually achieved anything
  • Stop delivering an ancient charge and do several Q & A – even get members to prepare some of their own and share them around all members
  • Promote that the Lodge does not carry out – ever – back-to-back ceremonies and having at least one meeting in between where the significance of what has been conducted is explored. The new materials include at least one example of this and more are planned.
  • Promote attendance of non-Masonic prospective members coming into the lodge to see the set up, regalia in use on open days/evenings and at white table events is an option – check with your APGM/APGP first
  • Promote the use of the new initiate manual if one is not already used
  • We have to sell the idea of mentoring being about the right man for the right job and not the last person willing to do the last or left over job on the summons
  • Mentors need assistance – also assists in succession planning

Priorities that appear to be our main/current focus:

  1. Personal Mentoring and one-to-one delivery must be the priority and stressed with your members
  2. We have to improve communication and feedback from lodges on progress or otherwise - speak with your District Mentor and District Officers

WBro Martin Roche