Intentional Mentoring in SIL Cameroon – Coffee and Snacks Included!

by Heline Kimbung and Larry Seguin

Heline Kimbung, HR Director, SIL Cameroon
Larry Seguin, Community Engagement and Sociolinguistics Coordinator,
SIL Cameroon

Leadership development and mentoring in SIL Cameroon

In July 2021, SIL Cameroon launched a leadership development and mentoring program aimed at intentionally investing in its future leaders through tapping into the knowledge and experience of its more experienced staff. The program is being co-led by Heline Kimbung, the director of human resources, and Larry Seguin, the coordinator of the Community Engagement and Sociolinguistics Department.

What are our goals?

We have four areas in mind:

  • Intentionally benefit from the skills and experience of many of our people before they leave or retire.
  • Proactively find and develop people to take on leadership roles with confidence.
  • Foster a community of grace by supporting intentional relationships where people are building each other up and contributing to their growth as persons.
  • Provide training and accompaniment to those currently in mentoring relationships, to help make their experiences as mentors and mentees very rewarding.

What makes this program distinctive from previous mentoring initiatives in Cameroon?

First, mentees are responsible for their own learning. 

Second, the mentee chooses his or her mentor. We compile a list of people willing to be mentors, along with their strengths and interests, and share that with the mentees. We have not always been able to satisfy mentees’ preferences, but most of the time we have been able to do so.

Third, the mentee’s and mentor’s supervisors are both included in the process so that they see the mentoring relationship as an integral part of their subordinates’ work.

Fourth, there is a mentoring agreement in place. It spells out clear objectives, a clear timeline for achieving the objectives, an evaluation process, and a date at which the formal relationship comes to an end (with a celebration) or is extended. The mentor, the mentee, and their supervisors sign the agreement.

Mentoring Cafés

Another distinctive feature of our program is the “Mentoring Café.” Providing ongoing hands-on training and refreshers to the parties in the mentorship triangle (mentee, mentor, and supervisor) – and this, in a non-traditional learning format – has been a very rewarding time.

At the mentoring cafes, we spend about 4 hours together, broken down into 30-45 minutes of facilitated and well-planned interactive activity stations. Such activities and conversations have been developed around topics relevant to the mentoring pairs. Topics have included communication; giving and receiving feedback in cross-cultural mentoring relationships; how to motivate yourself and others; how a mentee can take responsibility for his or her learning; evaluating the effectiveness of the mentoring relationship; asking powerful questions; and the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of a mentor.

To create a relaxed “café” ambiance, snacks and drinks are available throughout the morning.

We finish the café with a debrief, asking what participants appreciated and what improvements they would suggest. We record these for future cafés.

To date, we have had four cafés, with between 12 and 15 participants at each. The individual group sizes have therefore been perfect for encouraging participation by all in the discussions.

Preparing for the next cohort

The seven mentees in the current cohort occupy positions varying from construction and maintenance, finance, and library to language project development, facilitation, and implementation.

We have been excited by the growth we have seen in our colleagues who have been taking part in this first cohort and look forward to starting a second cohort by the end of 2022.

Reflection question:

  • What could you do in your sphere of influence to strengthen mentoring relationships?
  • What could it look like to organise a Mentoring Café in your organisation or department?

Banner photo by Pexels from Pixabay

How can I develop my mentoring skills?

by Eszter Ernst-Kurdi

Eszter Ernst-Kurdi, Training Domain Team Leader, SIL Francophone Africa

Tony Horsfall points out in his book Mentoring for Spiritual Growth that “no one begins as a perfect mentor. Most learn on the job and through experience.

I don’t know about you but I often find myself doubting whether I am doing a good job passing on my competencies to others and I wonder how I could do it in a more fruitful way. Sometimes, these thoughts stem from a dose of self-focussed insecurities. In those moments, it helps to remind myself that not everything is about me. 🙂 Other times, these thoughts motivate me to look for ways to grow in my mentoring skills through reading, discussion with others and practical experience. That’s why Tony’s words are a great encouragement to me.

If you are looking for ways to further develop your mentoring skills, Mentoring Matters offers three different ways to engage with others and learn together to be skillful and inspiring mentors.

1.      How to assess your mentee’s competencies (nanocourse)

This is a short, stand-alone online course focusing on how to set appropriate assignments for your mentees, how to assess their competencies and how to communicate that assessment in a way that is sensitive to intercultural dynamics.

  • Length: 4 hours
  • Mode: Self-paced online course (you can work on it in your own time)
  • Language: English
  • Prerequisite: None

Special offer: You can take it for FREE, if you sign up before the 10th November 2022

To sign up, go to and choose this nanocourse from the Browse for Training menu heading. If you need assistance, click here.

2.      Introduction to Mentoring

This is an introductory online course not just for mentors but also for mentees and even managers who wish to support the professional development of their staff.

  • Length: 18-20 hours over 6 weeks
  • Mode: Synchronous (a 90-minute zoom session per week + prework and homework)
  • Syllabus here
  • Language: English, French
  • Prerequisite: None

Dates and sign up here

3.      Practical Mentoring

This course aims to help participants develop their mentoring competencies through practical activities that can be directly applied in a mentoring relationship. Participants can choose from a selection of 12 modules depending on their interest. To complete the course, one has to take 5 modules.

  • Length: 4 hours per module
  • Mode: Self-paced online course (you can work on it in your own time) + a friendly, one-on-one zoom chat with a facilitator after each module to help you consolidate your learning
  • Syllabus here
  • Language: English (coming soon in French)
  • Prerequisite: Introduction to Mentoring

Sign up here

I hope that when you have a chance, you will take these opportunities to learn from others and to share your experience, too, so that our mentoring community can grow through these interactions.

Banner photo by LuAnn Hunt from Pixabay

Personal Impact Awareness

by Dr Michael Jemphrey

Dr Michael Jemphrey, Translation and Anthropology Consultant, SIL

Like a drop in a pond, we all have an impact on those around us. As we mentor others, who in turn mentor others, that impact can be wide ranging. Impact is the way I influence others as a result of my total person:

  • my behaviour
  • my choice of words
  • my intonation
  • my gestures and body language 
  • my life patterns and lifestyle (Gardner, 1997).

The following diagram is called the Johari window (Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, 1955), and it can help us to think further on our impact.

The open area represents the aspects of the self that are openly shared by the self and are readily visible to others.

The blind area represents those aspects of the self that a person is unaware of but are visible to others. The discovery of this part of ourselves is a surprise.

The secret area represents the secrets that a person keeps from others and are only visible or  known to the self. These may be weaknesses or shameful events we want to hide from others.

The subconscious area is not visible or known to either ourselves or others and could be experiences that are too painful to remember.

If our blind spot dominates and we are largely unaware of the impact we have on others, we can be like a bull in a china shop, creating havoc without realising it. It is important for mentors to take time to seek out feedback from our mentees on how the mentorship is working and whether our behaviour could be modified to avoid unintended damage. This is especially important in cross-cultural mentorships where your behaviour can be perceived differently from what you expect.

If our secret pane dominates and we hide all our weaknesses and struggles from our mentee, we can come across as a detective inspecting the mentee, always pointing out and judging the weaknesses in another.  A mentee can really be encouraged by a mentor sharing their struggles. It  shows that the role they are learning is not only for supermen and superwomen. It models for them how to be open to think about their own weaknesses and how to grow through them. Obviously, this needs to be done sensitively and gradually, in a way that builds trust, and encourages the mentee rather than overwhelms them with too much detail!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Asking your mentee for feedback can be a great way to enlarge the open area and be a spur for growth both for you and your mentee.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

In conclusion, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I get the feedback I need to grow my open area?
  • Have I asked my mentees (or others) to give me feedback about my impact on them? 
  • Am I afraid to ask them to give me feedback?  Why? 
  • Do I get the feedback I have asked for? 
  • How do I respond when I do get the feedback I have asked for? 
  • Am I defensive, fall apart or do I take it on board and grow and adapt
    • my behaviour 
    • my choice of words 
    • my intonation 
    • my gestures and body language 
    • my life patterns and lifestyle…

for the good of my mentees and the glory of God?

Suggested reading:

Gardner, L. M. (1997) Impact Awareness. Dallas: Wycliffe Bible Translators. The article is available online here.

Banner photo by Koen Emmers on Unsplash

A lifetime of mentoring – interview with Dr Katy Barnwell

by Dr Michael Jemphrey

Dr Michael Jemphrey, Translation and Anthropology Consultant, SIL

Dr Katy Barnwell needs no introduction to anyone in the Bible translation world. I first met her when I was a newbie consultant in training in Cote d’Ivoire at a consultant workshop she led in the 1980’s. The way she gently encouraged us and sensitively handled some critical remarks has stayed with me. It was an honour for me to do this interview with her recently. She has returned to the UK and continues to mentor others in West Africa. She is ever ready to learn.

Thanks to Katy for these thoughtful words and inspiring testimony.

Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash.

Speaking grace and truth in mentoring: how we grow through challenges

by Kate M.

Kate M, Translation Consultant, SIL

If somebody asked me, what was missing from mentoring I received as a translation consultant-in-training, I would say, “Being challenged – challenged to grow in my consultant and interpersonal skills; challenged to develop deeper knowledge of Biblical languages; challenged in writing papers; and challenged in my knowledge of related disciplines.” As it was clear that I could easily meet the requirements for becoming a translation consultant, my main mentor didn’t see the need to challenge me. In contrast, my current mentor regularly challenges me. For example, last year I learned better time management and this year I’m expanding my knowledge in different areas. In accepting these challenges, I am finding joy when seeing my hard work pay off and also seeing growth in areas I had not even thought about.

An effective mentor sees strengths and also areas for development in his or her mentee and has the privilege of speaking grace and truth into the mentee’s life. In the following examples, drawn from my personal experiences as a mentor, I will show how speaking grace and truth into a mentee’s life can spark growth.

A hard-working, young woman was leading translation checking sessions very competently. However, I noticed that she frequently used the words ‘maybe’ and ‘it is possible that…’ when she presented her ideas and suggestions to the team. Her perception of herself was that she is ‘just a beginner’ and here she was mistaken. The truth she needed to hear is that she is an expert in her field. For her this truth provided the freeing grace of growing confidence. The challenge for her was and is to speak with humble confidence, as the expert she has already become.

In another situation, a woman has been struggling for years to meet the requirements for qualification as a translation consultant. She feels lost in the system and on several occasions, she has said, “Maybe I should just leave it”. This mentee needs to hear several truths, ranging from the fact that not all translation consultants have the same role and that her gifts are acceptable as they are, all the way to something as simple as, “You can do it!” Sometimes the truth needs to focus on a mentee’s strengths rather than growth areas. The  challenge for this mentee is: will she persist and become a consultant? The mentor needs to offer grace, in this case holding her accountable for her own progress and promising to support her until she reaches her goal.

A young man really wanted to become a translation consultant and was working hard to reach this goal. During a mentored session it became obvious that he is lacking in several areas. The members of the team did not fully accept him. It was difficult for him to come to terms with this, but he had to realize that he wasn’t cut out to be a consultant. It would have been a comforting half-truth to say that he could grow to become what he wanted to be. The challenge here is different from the previous two examples. Can he accept that becoming a translation consultant is not possible for him at this time? Grace in his case was shown by his main mentor who allowed him to change his role to one that allows him to work using his strengths and in areas about which he is passionate.

Speaking grace and truth into a mentee’s life isn’t easy: accepting the words of a mentor isn’t easy either. Here are a few guidelines that I have found helpful (this is not an exclusive list):

  • The relationship between a mentor and mentee is one of trust: let your mentee know you care about them.
  • Listen, observe, and ask questions to work out the strengths and challenges of your mentee – these may not be immediately apparent.
  • Be aware of the differences between the mentor’s culture and the mentee’s culture: how are truth and grace spoken in the culture of the mentee?
  • Pray for wisdom and kindness: the delivery of the mentor is as important as the mentor’s words themselves.
  • Allow your mentee time to process what has been said: give her the space to think and pray through your words, to ask questions and to give feedback. Admit if your observations were wrong.

Questions to think about:

  • What are the differences between encouragement and challenge?
  • What are some of the methods we use to speak grace and truth into another person’s life? How would you apply this to mentoring?
  • How do you help your mentee grow?

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Brain-friendly mentoring

by Eszter Ernst-Kurdi

Eszter Ernst-Kurdi, Training Coordinator, SIL Francophone Africa

Have you ever wondered what makes certain mentoring pairs more performant than others? Do you know colleagues or teams in your organisation that work so well together that it’s a joy to watch what they achieve together?

As I look back on my professional development, I am particularly thankful for two mentors with whom I had the chance to work closely together and experience a mentoring relationship that made us both more performant. What made these two mentoring relationships different was that I found both mentors very safe people. They were open, approachable, authentic and encouraging. They didn’t take themselves too seriously. I could be myself with them. This trust started as we worked together on a bigger project where we met regularly for several weeks. We got to know each other not just in a professional setting but also through activities such as playing volleyball, going out for a coffee, watching football games, going bird watching and eating together. Through these shared experiences we began to learn about each other’s cultures, personalities, families and values. Another thing that helped to build a sense of psychological safety was that both of these mentors took time to listen to me and my ideas even before I knew I wanted to ask them to be my mentors.

In a recent article about performance improvement and the brain, S. Pillay explains that focusing solely on performance in the workplace will not necessarily bring about the results that the organisation wants to see. He highlights that psychological safety and organisational health have a much bigger impact on performance than practicing skills:

Efficient task execution requires brain synchrony which is highly dependent on the quality of attachment between team members.

Movement [eg.: going on walks] can improve cognitive performance.

These findings, I believe, can influence our mentoring practice, too. Betz (2020) also affirms that “the more multi-sensory neural connections we have associated with a behavior or skill, the stronger the pathway becomes by engaging more aspects of the brain.

In the article Neuroscience of Teaching, Mentoring and Coaching, G. Ontai writes:

Teachers, mentors, and coaches who work with adults need to apply personal skills and strategies that focus on emotional mechanisms of how the brain functions.  Whether communications takes place in the classroom, in the privacy of an office, coffee shops, or outdoor venues, developing brain-friendly approaches to motivate or transfer knowledge are significantly improved when mentors are aware [of the neuroscience behind learning]. […] Introducing humor and laughter into the communication process counteracts the effects of stress.  Inserting empathy and caring behavior triggers happy hormones in relationship building which helps to enhance motivation, engagement, and knowledge transfer.

In other words, a mentoring relationship can be more effective, if we apply brain-friendly skills and strategies both for building the relationship and for helping the mentee advance in their professional development plan. These strategies (eg.: humour, empathy, reading body language, accommodating for different information processing styles) will look different in different cultures. In intercultural contexts there is an even bigger need for mentor and mentee to invest time and energy to get to know each other in the beginning of the mentorship in order to create a safe environment where learning is supported by positive emotional mechanisms and where activities are tailored to the learning and processing style(s) of the mentee. This requires sensitivity on both sides but especially from the mentor.

Based on what we are learning from neuroscience, it might be helpful to reflect on how we can apply these brain-friendly strategies in our mentoring relationships. Here are a couple of questions to spark discussion.

Psychological safety

  • What does it mean to each of us in this mentorship – whether it is a one-on-one or a group mentoring situation –  to have a healthy and safe working relationship?
  • How can we reduce the stress often associated with “awkward” initial mentoring meetings?
  • How can we promote psychological safety? What are some simple, practical steps to take?
  • How can we introduce brain-friendly mentoring practices – activities and habits that foster relaxedness, trust and learning – in our mentoring relationships?
  • Are our communication practices and working together clear and synchronised enough to facilitate connection and good performance?

Physical movement

  • Do we know each other’s preferred learning styles? How can we practically take advantage of this in our mentorship?
  • Can we integrate physical movement into our meetings, when and where it’s possible?
  • How can we use physical movement to our advantage?
    • Does my  mentee think more creatively or pay attention more intently or process information better when she is in movement?
    • Can we stay calmer in a difficult conversation when we are walking?
    • Can I listen in a more focused way, if I have something in my hand to hold?
  • Have we integrated appropriate feedback mechanisms that take into consideration the above mentioned points?

This sounds quite daunting, right? My mentor always encourages me saying that mentoring is learned by doing. You don’t have to be an expert at all these things before you can start mentoring. Why not start out in a small way and try out a brain-friendly strategy on a simple mentoring task?

Share your thoughts by leaving a reply below. I look forward to reading about your experiences.

Further resources:

Photo from Pixabay

Get mentoring off the ground!

by Dr Michael Jemphrey

Dr Michael Jemphrey, Robust Mentoring Leader, SIL

Mentoring is a great idea!” — after the Introduction to Mentoring online course everyone is convinced. Everyone would love to have a mentor. However, the reality is that far fewer people feel qualified to be a mentor for others. I think that is common to most of us because we know all too well our own weaknesses.

Yet if we are vulnerable then it helps our mentees to know that they too don’t need to reach the status of PERFECT SUPERMENTOR in order to be of help to others. In fact, as John Updike says:

“Perfectionism is the enemy of creation as extreme self-isolation is the enemy of well-being.”

If we wait for perfection, we will never help anyone. So here are just a few ideas as to how to get mentoring off the ground  in your department or organisation.

Start small and grow in confidence

This can be an informal arrangement of 2 or 3 people who know each other and think they can learn a few different skills from each other. Agree to meet regularly once or twice a month for a few months, establish a small programme,with  someone responsible for sharing a skill each time. Try meeting on Zoom, if you are not close. Be ready to learn together.

Mentor two people at a time

I have tried this out on a few occasions with a couple of translation consultants in training in the same checking session and I really like it! It can be less intense, more relaxed than a one-on-one relationship sometimes is. It has been shown that peer mentees can learn a lot from each other, and can learn from the direction each other receives from the mentor. They can also learn some mentoring skills themselves, if the mentor allows them to give feedback to each other in a safe space.

Structure a mentoring group

Recently an experienced Language Programme Manager approached me saying that she hopes to mentor 20 managers in different countries. Three of the 20 have some limited experience as language programme managers, the rest are just beginning. What a great opportunity! How to face this without being overwhelmed?

As we chatted together we came up with a pyramid system to try out. She will mentor the three more experienced people. They each will mentor the others in small groups. They will all meet together as a larger group every 2-3 months to discuss common topics and difficult questions.

I think this must be something akin to what Moses created in Exodus 18:25-26 when he 

“appointed officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.”

Reflection questions:

  • What ideas do you have that could help get mentoring off the ground in your context?
  • As a next step, with whom do you need to discuss these ideas?

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Le mentorat comme levier de motivation et de productivité / Mentoring that boosts motivation and productivity

by Orphée-Marcelle Nogbou

Orphée-Marcelle Nogbou, HR Manager, SIL Côte d’Ivoire

The English translation of the post is just below the French original.
Please scroll down to read it.

L’un des facteurs importants de la compétitivité d’une organisation tient particulièrement à sa capacité à se doter en capital humain. En effet, la qualité de ce capital conditionne sa productivité. C’est pourquoi, il est primordial d’agir sur les facteurs de rétention et de développement de ses ressources humaines au nombre desquels la reconnaissance joue un rôle indispensable.

En encadrant mes plus jeunes frères, j’ai compris que la reconnaissance dans le cadre de l’apprentissage agit comme un facteur de stimulation et de développement des compétences. De ce point de vue, l’expression de la reconnaissance est nécessaire pour atteindre des objectifs de production ou tout simplement des résultats satisfaisants.

En effet, la reconnaissance que l’on accorde au mentoré, dans le cadre de la relation mentorale, crée un environnement de sécurité et de confiance qui conditionne la motivation et le désir de mieux faire. Parallèlement, lorsque le besoin de reconnaissance chez le mentoré est satisfait par le mentor, le mentoré se reconnait comme ayant de la valeur.  Dès lors, le mentorat se pose comme un levier de motivation et de productivité, qui s’appuie, dans un premier temps, sur la reconnaissance, ensuite le renforcement de capacités et enfin le développement de nouvelles compétences.

La reconnaissance

La reconnaissance d’un employé ou collaborateur s’entend comme l’estime et la gratitude de l’organisation vis-à-vis du travail fournit par lui. Ainsi, dès lors que l’organisation, par son représentant, marque un temps d’arrêt pour apprécier, estimer le travail fournit par un employé, elle lui accorde de la reconnaissance. Celle-ci crée chez le tiers une atmosphère de sécurité dans le travail. Par conséquent, l’individu est plus enclin à l’échange, à l’apprentissage, à la découverte. Il naît alors une véritable connexion entre l’individu et l’organisation. Si ce lien est cultivé et solidifié, il ouvre la voie au renforcement de capacités. C’est dans cette relation qu’intervient le mentor.

Le renforcement de capacités

La reconnaissance exprimée met en place le cadre propice à l’apprentissage. Toutefois, elle n’est pas suffisante pour assurer la motivation qui conduit à la productivité. Il faut y ajouter le renforcement de capacités. Les capacités d’une personne sont renforcées lorsque celui acquiert des compétences utiles et solides pour réaliser une tâche spécifique ou tenir un poste clé. Dès lors, ce renforcement de capacité outille l’individu pour être efficace dans l’atteinte des objectifs de l’organisation. La motivation intervient lorsque l’organisation s’engage dans un dialogue régulier pour soutenir et évaluer le développement professionnel à travers des indicateurs et une excellente communication. Le mentorat devient donc l’expression de l’organisation pour encourager, renforcer et suivre les performances professionnelles.

Le développement de nouvelles compétences

Le développement professionnel continu est une nécessité absolue au lieu de travail d’aujourd’hui. Le mentorat joue un rôle clé dans la promotion de l’innovation et du développement.

Dans ce contexte, la motivation est consolidée lorsque le superviseur s’informe des ambitions professionnelles de l’employé. Lorsque le superviseur soutient des objectifs de développement professionnel de son staff, selon les buts de l’organisation, il actionne le mécanisme de développement et de rétention de personnel. Dès lors, le mentorat permet à l’organisation d’offrir des opportunités de développement et de discuter des stratégies possibles. Dans le cadre du mentorat, il est important d’inviter le mentoré à exprimer ses attentes et objectifs en termes de développement professionnel et personnel. En faisant cela, on lui montre de l’intérêt à s’investir lui-même dans l’acquisition des compétences dont il a besoin, et on crée les conditions de la réussite de la relation mentorale. Dans un tel contexte, le mentorat, s’il est bien mené, actionne la reconnaissance de l’individu vis-à-vis de l’organisation qui, elle aussi, en tire un énorme avantage.

Questions de réflexion :

  • Comment pourriez-vous appliquer le mentorat à votre organisation pour le bénéfice de tous ? Quelles actions spécifiques pourriez-vous entreprendre pour atteindre ce but ?
  • En tant que manager ou mentor, quelles mesures spécifiques pourriez-vous prendre pour augmenter le niveau d’engagement et de motivation de votre personnel ?

One of the most important factors in an organization’s competitiveness is its ability to develop its people. The quality of the staff often determines the organisation’s productivity. This is why, I believe, it is essential to find ways to retain and support our staff. Finding meaningful ways to express how much we value people plays a key role in this process.  

When I was helping my younger brothers to study, I understood that recognition in the context of learning enhances the development of skills. In the same way, when an organisation can express its recognition towards its staff, it will lead to better results and higher productivity.

In the context of mentoring, appreciating and valuing one’s mentees creates an environment of security and trust that has a positive effect on their motivation and their desire to do better. When the mentee’s need for recognition is met by the mentor, when the mentee feels truly “seen” by the mentor, the mentee recognizes himself or herself as a valuable person.  Therefore, mentoring can be a tool for increasing motivation and fruitfulness in the workplace because it creates a helpful framework for appreciating people, affirming their skills and helping them to develop new competencies.


Recognition of an employee is understood as the organization’s esteem and gratitude for the work he or she provides. In other words, as soon as the organization, through its representative, takes the time to explicitly appreciate and value the work of a colleague, it grants him/her recognition. This creates an atmosphere of security in the workplace. Consequently, staff will be more open to dialogue, to learn, to discover. A real connection between the individual and the organization is born. If this personal connection is cultivated and strengthened, it opens the way to capacity building. It is in this relationship that the mentor can contribute.

Affirm skills

Affirmation sets the stage for learning. However, it is not enough to ensure the motivation that will lead to productivity. It has to be paired with people development. A person’s capacity is enhanced when he or she acquires useful and robust skills that enable him or her to perform a specific task or to hold a key position. Capacity building equips the individual to be effective in achieving organisational goals. It can be very motivating when the organisation engages in clear and regular dialogue with their staff about their progress and the development of their competencies. Mentoring thus becomes the organization’s expression of encouraging, supporting and monitoring professional development.

Develop new skills

Continuous professional development is a must in today’s workplace. Mentoring plays a key role in promoting innovation and development.

In this context, motivation comes into play when the organization is willing to listen to the employee’s ambitions. When managers support the professional development goals of their staff that align with the organisation’s mission, employees will likely stay in the organisation longer and will be more engaged. Mentoring allows the organization to discuss opportunities for development and possible strategies. It is important to invite mentees to express their expectations and goals in terms of personal and professional development because by doing so we encourage them to invest in their own learning helping them to acquire the skills they need. This dialogue can create the conditions for a successful mentoring relationship. In such a context, mentoring, if it is done well, helps mentees to appreciate their organisation which, in return, can be very beneficial for all parties involved.

For reflection: 

  • How might you implement a mentoring programme in your organisation that benefits everyone? What specific actions can you take to achieve this goal?
  • As a manager or mentor, what concrete steps could you take to increase the level of commitment and motivation of your staff?

Au rythme du mentorat / The Rhythm Of Mentoring

by Yves Léonard

Yves Léonard, Conseiller en traduction, Wycliffe Canada & Seed Company & Société biblique américaine

The English translation of the post is just below the French original. Please scroll down to read it.

Qui d’entre nous ne voudrait pas avoir à ses côtés le soutien d’un défenseur, d’une personne engagée à favoriser sa croissance, son succès et son bien-être ? Et en échange d’un tel appui transformateur, qui d’entre nous serait prêt à en faire autant envers quelqu’un d’autre ?

Un ancien président des États-Unis a dit un jour :

« J’utilise non seulement l’intelligence que je possède, mais aussi celle d’autrui. » (Woodrow Wilson)

Une autre personne a écrit :

« Nous pouvons facilement compter les graines trouvées dans un fruit, mais pouvons-nous compter les fruits qui seront produits grâce à une seule graine ? » (Auteur inconnu)

Il en est de même pour le mentorat, qui est l’application d’une sagesse collective dont les fruits sont innombrables. Pour un mentor, le mentorat est un mécanisme qui lui permet de partager et de mettre au profit d’autrui la connaissance et la sagesse que Dieu lui a permis d’acquérir. Pour le mentoré, le mentorat est une occasion de recevoir une perspective différente, une connaissance et une vision du monde qui enrichiront son être et son empreinte sur ce monde.

Le mentorat s’applique à des disciplines de tous genres, et nous, les conseillers en traduction et les traducteurs, sommes particulièrement ciblés par le devoir de nous aiguiser les uns les autres (Pr. 27.17). L’interdisciplinarité de notre travail nous propulse dans un vaste monde de connaissances et d’applications où la coopération et la collaboration sont les fondements de notre succès. Le mentorat est donc un outil idéal pour accroître cette collaboration et faire avancer la connaissance du Message de Dieu.

Heureusement pour nous, le mentorat existe dans nos sociétés depuis la nuit des temps et sous de nombreuses formes. Par exemple, dans un contexte socioculturel africain, la transmission et l’instruction des valeurs traditionnelles sont souvent basées sur l’observation, la répétition et la participation. Même si nous cherchons à améliorer les techniques du mentorat et à sensibiliser ses utilisateurs quant à son potentiel, nous pouvons aussi bâtir sur les fondations existantes qui nous ont été transmises dans notre propre culture.

Dans le cadre de la traduction de la Bible, le mentorat est souvent perçu comme une activité à court terme pendant les séances de vérification. Cependant, si nous regardons l’ensemble de nos expériences et notre besoin de nous épauler tout au long de notre développement intellectuel et interrelationnel, il nous serait avantageux de voir le mentorat comme un besoin permanent. Le mentorat est rarement exercé sans avoir été planifié d’abord de façon mûrement réfléchie. Tout projet de traduction ferait donc bien d’inclure dans sa structure de base un plan de croissance et de mentorat afin d’encadrer convenablement tout homme et toute femme engagés dans la traduction de la Parole de Dieu.

En plus de maintenir un rapport humain et empathique avec les mentorés, l’un des autres objectifs du mentorat est de les amener à réfléchir et à découvrir eux-mêmes les solutions aux difficultés qu’ils rencontrent. Certes, voilà une tâche subtile qui requiert un savoir-faire bien particulier mais le mentor qui maîtrise cet art du questionnement possède la clé de la réflexion et de la croissance. Ce modèle d’apprentissage est clairement présent dans la rhétorique de Jésus et des auteurs bibliques, qui nous invitent à apprendre d’eux et à suivre leur exemple.

Questions de réflexion :

  • Qu’est-ce que votre propre culture enseigne concernant le mentorat ?
  • Dans votre milieu, qui sont vos mentors et vos mentorés ?

Who among us would not want the support of an advocate, someone committed to our growth, success and well-being? And in return for benefiting from  such support, who among us would not be willing to do the same for someone else? 

Who among us would not want the support of an advocate, someone committed to our growth, success and well-being? And in return for benefiting from  such support, who among us would not be willing to do the same for someone else? 

A former US President once said: 

“I use not only the intelligence I possess, but also that of others. ” (Woodrow Wilson)

Another person wrote: 

“We can easily count the seeds found in a fruit, but can we count the fruits that will be produced from a single seed? ” (Author unknown)

The same can be said of mentoring,  for the application of collective wisdom produces fruit which cannot be counted. For a mentor, mentoring is a tool to share with others the knowledge and wisdom that God has allowed him or her to acquire. For a mentee, mentorship is an opportunity to receive a different perspective, knowledge and worldview that will enrich their being and increase their impact on the world.

Mentoring applies to disciplines of all kinds, and we, as translation consultants and translators  in particular, have the duty to sharpen each other (Pr. 27.17). The interdisciplinary nature of our work propels us into a world of knowledge and applications where cooperation and collaboration are the foundations of our success. Mentoring is an ideal tool to increase this collaboration and advance the knowledge of God’s Message.

Fortunately for us, mentoring has existed in many forms in our societies since time immemorial. For example, in an African socio-cultural context, the transmission and instruction of traditional values is often based on observation, repetition and participation. While we seek to improve mentoring techniques and raise awareness of its potential, we can also build on the existing foundations that have been passed down to us in our own culture.

In the context of Bible translation, mentoring is often seen as a short-term activity during checking sessions. However, if we look at our experiences holistically and our need for support throughout our intellectual and interpersonal development, we would benefit from seeing mentoring as an ongoing need. Mentoring is rarely done without careful planning. Any translation project would therefore do well to include in its basic structure a plan for growth and mentoring in order to properly mentor every man and woman involved in the translation of the Word of God.

In addition to maintaining a friendly and empathetic relationship with mentees, one of the other goals of mentoring is to get them to reflect on and discover for themselves the solutions to the difficulties they face. This is a subtle task that requires a particular skill set, but the mentor who masters this art of questioning holds the key to reflection and growth. This model of learning is clearly present in the rhetoric of Jesus and the biblical authors, who invite us to learn from them and follow their example.

For reflection: 

  • What does your own culture teach about mentoring?
  • In your environment, who are your mentors and mentees?

Online Training in Mentoring

by Dr Michael Jemphrey & Eszter Ernst-Kurdi

Dr Michael Jemphrey & Eszter Ernst-Kurdi, Introduction to Mentoring Course Leaders, SIL

Do mentoring relationships actually work? 

Typically, three out of ten relationships do succeed. But if you train the mentors, then this number rises to six out of ten, and if you train both mentors and mentees, the success rate increases dramatically to nine out of ten (source)! This startling research encouraged us to press forward with a pilot, synchronous online training in mentoring, despite our questions. Would we be able to  make sufficient personal connections in an online environment? Would the internet connections hold for colleagues working in Francophone Africa?

The result was a rich learning experience for staff and participants alike. Some key factors were:

  • A good structure to the training with preparatory work and homework every week in addition to a group zoom meeting to discuss our learnings and questions.
  • A variety of learning tasks in groups of 2, 3 and 5
  • Thorough preparation and teamwork between the instructors and the small-group facilitators
  • Participants from different cultural and professional backgrounds
  • People willing to commit to three hours per week (90 minutes online in live zoom session and 90 minutes offline)

Some testimonials from the participants:

“I really enjoyed the course. It had a good mix of group and individual work, as well as presentations and practical exercises. It was challenging, interesting and I’m sure it will also be very useful. I would recommend the course to anyone who is considering having or becoming a mentor.”

“The course content was very rich; all the resources were available to us and the course was delivered with clarity. Now I know what mentoring is all about and how important it is.”

“This training helped me to discover mentoring as we want to implement it in my organisation. As language program manager, it’s my responsibility to follow the development plan of several people whom I supervise. In their file there is often mention of a mentor and I had no idea what kind of relationship I was supposed to have with the mentor of each of my staff. After this training I now have a clearer vision of how I should work with the respective mentors of my collaborators. I also understood the necessity for me to have a mentor and to look for a mentor for the rest of my staff who do not have one yet.”

If you are interested in taking the course, check out the syllabus and have a look at this page to find out when the next cohorts will take place in English or in French in the coming year. The next cohort in French will start on the 13th January 2021 (very few places left) and the next English cohort will start on the 3rd February 2021.

If you have questions, send us a message using the form below.

Photo by Gerd Altman from Pixabay