Not to be confused with a coach a mentor is a peer to peer guide or is often described as someone who has walked the path before others. If you wanted to be the worlds best swimmer then you would work with the worlds best swimming coach but if you wanted to know what it was like to be the worlds best swimmer then you would talk with someone who has done it and this person is a mentor.
Mentors are people who help the mentee to develop and grow until the mentee feels empowered to function alone. Mentors do this by providing support, sharing their experiences, knowledge and skills whilst keeping in mind the level of skill and experience the mentee possesses. The relationship between the mentor and the mentee usually unfolds over time and can be formal and informal.
The role of a mentor is one that is best taken seriously for the mentee’s often see their mentor as ‘larger than life’ or the expert and it’s probably healthy for them to see you in such a way initially to help establish the relationship for they are looking for someone to point the way. They are often unsure of their abilities through a lack of experience and the mentee seeks to acquire your abilities. At times you may even feel that the mentee is becoming you.
There are a variety of skills good mentors possess which enables them to have long and successful relationships with their mentees who often go on to be their friends and provide mutual counsel. If it’s time for you to jump on the mentoring bus or indeed you are already on-board Happening People give you our Top 5 on How to Be a Great Mentor and in this top 5 check out our extra top tip (it’s one you won’t want to miss!) by liking our Facebook page www.facebook.com/happeningpeople
1. Success is in the structure
Mentoring can be stifled by too much structure. Many people who engaged in mentoring would not apply the label to their activities. Some would be embarrassed and inhibited by so naming the relationship. Very informal one-off instances of advice or short-term mentoring can afford to be totally unstructured. However it can be lack of structure with no agreed objectives, ground rules or parameters that leads to problems in mentoring. Where a mentoring relationship is recognised and acknowledged as such, a verbal agreement as to the purpose of the relationship is the minimum structure required. Written agreements can also be valuable.
2. Responsibility of the mentee
Your role as mentor requires you to guide, offer suggestions for improvement, uncover strategies that maybe of use to the mentee and provide them with a sounding board to help them navigate to a successful outcome. Your role here is not to take over and own the process or become possessive of the outcome. Ultimately the mentee is responsible for the outcome which you help them facilitate on the side lines.
3. The 4 phases to mentoring
1. Start up- People seek mentors when they are typically unable to make sense of an experience on their own, they seek mentors to guide them in these situations, to interpret their experiences for them.
2. Development- This is where you will see and hear your mentee being more independent. This is usually the longest phase in mentoring and offers you the greatest chance to assist in enhancing their skills and knowledge.
3. Separation – This phase begins when the mentee starts to separate from you. You can expect that they will want to do things by themselves to prove themselves and establish their own identity. They will be looking to stand-alone. It is usually the most rewarding stage for both the mentor and mentee.
4. Common Ground – Here you will be looking to see that the mentee feels completely at ease without your guidance. Better yet the mentoring relationship turns into a workplace friendship based on mutual respect and admiration.
4. The mentees manager
Some specialists in mentoring recommend that the boss should not be the mentor to a subordinate. However, some boss /subordinate mentoring works extremely well, either in the in the formal or informal sense. This works best when the culture of organisation endorses such behaviour or where the boss regards the staff development as a high performance goal in alignment with their own goals and those of the organisation. If you are not your mentees boss remember your job is to help the mentee develop and grow not to pick holes in how they are being managed.
5. Practice confidentiality
Where the mentor/ mentee relationship commonly falls apart or is severely tested is when there is a breach of confidentiality. Trust is paramount to the success of the relationship and only you can decide how much confidential matter you offer. At times ethical issues arise in which you may consider breaking confidentiality e.g. organisational security. At this point it is often best to refer to your organisation policies if a breach occurs. Legally, the law of land prevails and cases of stealing or harassment, among others, must be reported.
Let Happening People help you and your people develop your mentoring skills by attending our Mentoring Training Program. To find out more call us on 1800 68 67 69 or visit our website www.happeningpeople.com