Being a great Mentor is a journey in itself. As soon as you think you’re getting there then you discover more that you want to improve. 😊
These three rules though are always relevant whether it’s Career Mentoring, Personal Mentoring or Enterprise Mentoring that you are supporting.
Leave - So often to achieve good things we need to let go of unhelpful thinking rather than actually do something. One of the most important starting points for this in your mentoring practice is to leave your ego at the door.
Your experience and knowledge are only valuable as tools to ask the right questions and to help your mentee explore their own thoughts, behaviours and actions. As soon as you feel you ‘must’ share something ask yourself why. Check it’s truly adding independent value to help your mentee think as opposed to telling the mentee what they should do or sharing: This is the way. I have done it and I am right because of my experience.
When you start mentoring check your motives. Are you wanting to share your experience or to help others make sense of their own experiences. If it’s the former then your role helping others will be better positioned as an experienced colleague to check work with, a specialist trainer or a guest speaker rather than a mentor. These roles add immense value just in a different way to Mentoring.
When we work with organisations to support the set up or running of their Mentoring Programmes the Mentor role area is often one we spend the most time on. This Mentor role clarity and related Mentoring protocols for Mentoring Programmes are critical. It means Mentoring risks are mitigated and that the Mentoring scheme works well long term for both the individuals involved and the organisation.
Having the right Mentor who has willingly volunteered for the role for the right reasons and been given the right training and support makes all the difference.
Listen - The most valuable investment as a mentor is listening to your mentee. Truly practising active listening to check understanding and reflect back the mentees issues and opportunities.
The trouble is us humans aren’t very good at active listening as opposed to hearing words. To make it harder we also tend to think we are way more skilled at listening than we really are!
So it’s always going to be work in progress for any Mentor to practice with.
Using reflective practice techniques and undertaking Mentor training is really valuable in this regard.
Lightbulb - The lightbulb moment when insight is gained or great ideas spark belongs to your Mentee. As a mentor your role is to support and challenge so they reach that point not to do their thinking for them.
This can be quite tough especially for experienced managers who are used to getting results. It’s about being focussed on the mentees timeframes and their space so what might seem like an obvious solution to you may need time to filter through and develop for your mentee.
With mentoring we are developing the mentees capacity to solve their own problems. It’s not for the mentor to take over that capacity as it will inhibit progress and create dependency which is the opposite of a successful mentoring relationship.
The Code of Mentoring Practice can be a very helpful tool to discuss together at the start of your relationship to lay the right foundations.
I hope you have fun with your Mentoring. We would love to hear from you if you would like support or training for your mentoring programme or your mentoring.
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