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Advice for Mentors

The Keys to a Good Mentoring Relationship

With National Mentoring Day 2022 on the horizon, we want to celebrate mentoring and all the people that make it such an effective tool for learning and personal development.

But how do mentors and mentees ensure that they get the most out of mentoring and make sure they hit their goals?

Let’s explore the ways in which you can create a good mentoring relationship…

The desire to grow

Mentoring is a powerful part of personal development. You might find yourself stuck in a rut, not sure where you want to take your career, or maybe you have a clear goal but you don’t know how to get there.

Mentoring is the opportunity to learn from a more experienced individual and gives you new insights into personal development. It’s not just about wanting to grow, it’s about taking action. By actively seeking information about mentoring you’ve already taken the first step in taking personal responsibility in your personal development!

Before your first mentoring session, think about your goals and previous experiences. What do you want to achieve from your mentoring relationship? What are your goals for the future? Show that you’re curious and willing to learn.

And if you’re a mentor, science shows that we feel better about ourselves and more energetic when we help people, and when we feel good, good feelings spread.‍

The desire to inspire others

A mentor is a trusted individual who through years of experience has gained access to knowledge and experiences that the mentee doesn’t. And with that, a unique point of view. Whether its confidence in meetings, organisation skills, or growth within a company, you’ve reached a goal the mentee wants to achieve.

One great way to do this is to learn about the mentee and see if you can relate to their experiences, through this connection you can inspire. Evidence shows that those who are inspired are more receptive to new experiences and become more motivated.

Through mentoring you’ll teach by example and develop empathy and understanding for different points of view. Help the mentee craft a clearer path towards personal development.

Check out our guide to being a good mentee and good mentor

Get to know each other

You might feel that you have a limited amount of time and will want to get straight to business, but learning about each other is an important part of developing a strong mentoring relationship.

While it’s important to have an effective matching system, mentoring is about the people involved, so will still require active relationship nurturing. A great way to do this is through finding common experiences, aspirations and interests. This makes it easier to understand the other person and where the mentees issues lie, but also how to best help the mentee from your own experience. It also creates moments for the mentee and mentor to joke and bond.

Some people have found mentoring as a great way to connect with other employees, especially due to remote work, so be open to being honest and sharing opinions. It’s through these open discussions that you best learn about another person. Through constant communication, mentoring acts as a way to improve your communication skills.

Active listening

Active listening is an important part of mentoring and communication in general.

Active listening is when you listen to understand before responding, as opposed to listening just to respond. If you have something that you really, really want to say feel free to jot it down and bring up the point a little after.

Verbally reflect on what the other person has said not only to show that you’re listening, but as a way to reinforce what you’ve picked up from the conversation. And if you need clarification, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s important you both understand each other especially when it comes to goal setting to ensure that the target and path is clear.

Note for mentees: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and contribute your own thoughts. Everyone has their own experiences and holds unique points of view. Your mentor can’t cover everything so questions are the best way to get an answer. Having a back and forth feeds into creativity and inspires new ways of thinking and reflection.‍

Time investment and commitment

An important aspect of developing a strong mentoring relationship is by understanding that you’re both busy people, so try to schedule ahead. Iron out which times work for you and be honest. Maybe you’re not a morning person, or maybe you get tired late into the afternoon. Consider how often you’ll meet and what you’ll discuss during the next session.

Some people want more contact than others, but it’s important that both the mentor and mentee put time aside to ensure regular meetings, and try to give as much notice as possible for cancelations.

Celebrate success!

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate success. Positive feedback is useful for both the mentor and mentee and reinforces what was learnt.

Through celebrating success, the mentee becomes more engaged and finds their self esteem boosted. In turn, they find more meaning in their job and become more motivated to continue on the path of self improvement.

Mentoring is about learning, development and future growth so make sure to celebrate the small and big milestones.

Effective communication is a key aspect of developing a successful mentoring relationship. Some things might be obvious, but when you’re worried about career goals or current deadlines, it’s easy to forget.

It’s good to be able to discuss this with someone you relate to and someone who understands you. By putting in the time and effort to learn about the other person and by going into mentoring with goals and drive, you’ll create a strong mentoring relationship.

Read our tips on How To Be a Good Mentee, How To Be A Good Mentor, and How To Start A Mentoring Program

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Advice for Mentors

The Best Communication Techniques for Mentors

Mentoring can be seen as one the most valuable ways to develop your employees.

Having training and mentoring programs can efficiently help those looking to grow themselves. Mentoring can equip mentees with the skills and tools they need survive in the business realm.

It can be for something as small as learning a new skill, to striving for a brand-new career.

Good communication between a mentor and their mentee can build a powerful relationship and characters. And these can be used in situations beyond the everyday workplace.

Why should you have good communication with your mentee?

One of the biggest advantages of having good communication with your mentee is that you’ll be able to enhance them to the best of their ability –avoiding misinterpretation or uncertainty.

Through effective communication, mentors can present work methods clearly to help their mentee towards their goals. Whether these are for daily occurrences or for long-term benefits, mentees can gain clear information on their personal development.

The information provided should allow mentees to reflect their new skills whilst eliminating any sources of confusion. And effective communication can help avoid stressful situations in the workplace.

The main steps for building good communication with mentees are:

  1. Focus on their goals for the mentoring or training program.
  2. Keep a steady pace towards achieving the goals (for short and long-term).
  3. Maintain contact with mentees on a regular schedule.

Elements for creating good communication with your mentee

Some of the most effective methods for communication is to keep regular contact between mentor and mentee.

Communication methods don’t have to be long and intensive. Even a 10 minute daily chat can prove to be helpful for some people. Mentors can stick to means of communication like email, phone-calls, or online/ offline meetings. You can set expectations of how and when you’re happy to communicate with your mentee during your first session.

As remote working becomes more mainstream, communication has become especially important. for developing personal goals and targets. The tailored support that mentors provide can help enhance mentees far more than normal training.

Self-assessments allow mentees to fully understand and incorporate changes to their work practises. By acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses, mentors can develop strategies for helping mentees achieve what they want. Then a final run-through is conducted to see their improvement in real-time.

Different examples of communication techniques

Some of the most effective means of communication come through oral methods. Like phone-calls, face-to-face meetings, and video conferences.

Other examples of communication techniques can include written means, like emails, letters, and social media posts.

It’s important to choose the right format for communicating with mentees. Different scenarios will call for different types of communication. Choosing the right one will increase the level of impact.

For example, for personal development plans, you should use written forms of communication rather than through phone-calls. Mentees will be able to fully grasp the concept; and avoid writing extensive notes whilst trying to listen.

It’s always best to provide feedback on work skills and performance through a personal capacity, like face-to-face. Sometimes, things can be misunderstood through written means, as it lacks emotional presence and understanding.

Communicating in-person can also help a mentee fully appreciate their feedback, effectively developing their training.

Building trust with your mentees

The only way mentoring programs will succeed is through great levels of trust!

Mentors can achieve this through:

  • Taking the time to develop a mentoring relationship: Building a strong connection can enhance mentoring training more than you think. Sharing a personal anecdote or connecting on a common matter can push your mentoring relationship beyond the norm.

  • Have emotional intelligence during conversations: The most successful training schemes don’t just apply corporate knowhow and end it there. Personal development is more than learning a new skill for work. It’s also about growing the individual as a human. Being able to help mentees learn how to apply themselves (not just their CV achievements) will help them significantly hit goals and land placements at higher levels.

  • Remember a conversation has two people: To build a genuine relationship with mentees, you need to have honest channels of communication. Your conversations should be mutual and on a shared platform, rather than be shaped as one-sided. A shared platform will help erase any levels of power or hierarchy, helping the mentee to feel comfortable with their mentor. This will lead to a higher level of trust, respect, and a genuine drive to learn.

Listening is just as important as talking

Presenting ideas and strategies for your mentees is great, but it’s just as important to listen to their needs and questions.

Actively listening to them will ensure they are fully on-par with their training. Aim to have open channels and a genuine effort for meeting any queries or requests they raise.

Through these communication routes, mentors can present the most effective methods for training and development. And you’ll be able to watch your mentees significantly grow as unique individuals through their entire mentoring experience.

Now that you know the communication techniques necessary, you can read here to find out how to start your mentoring program.

Guest Author: Kayleigh Frost

Kayleigh Frost is the Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured

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Advice for Mentors

How to Be a Good Mentor: Guider’s Top Tips

Being asked to be a mentor is a highly rewarding privilege. It means somebody has identified you as an intelligent and inspirational figure who could benefit others with their guidance (good work).

But the difference between a good and a bad mentor can be life-changing, so we’re sure you want to get it right.

Working with thousands of mentors at Guider, we know a thing or two about what makes a good mentor. So below are our Top 5 Tips on How To Be A Good Mentor…

1. Set mutual expectations and goals

This is highly important to establish early on in your mentoring relationship. To avoid any miscommunication and disappointment, outline together:

  • What your mentee wants to get out of a mentoring relationship with you
  • What you are prepared and not prepared to do for them
  • What you expect of them, and vice versa
  • How often you will meet / talk

Ensure that you work with your mentee to identify what they want to achieve and that the goals they set are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

The best time to set these expectations is in your intro session! Check out our full guide here: ☕️ How To Run A Successful Intro Session With Your Mentee ☕️

2. Study your mentee

In order to be a good mentor, you must listen, observe, ask questions, and only then advise.

Gain as much information and clarity about your mentee’s aspirations, situation and roadblocks as you can. Be open-minded and inquisitive!

Here are some more tips for how to be a good mentor:

  • Never assume anything about your mentee
  • Be patient and allow them to explore their own ideas
  • Dig deep and ask open-ended questions
  • Get to know your mentee on a personal level
  • Read your mentee’s body language and expressions
  • Take notes during your mentoring sessions and follow up on what was said

It’s important to remember that you are not trying to create a ‘mini me’, but helping them figure out who they want to be and supporting them to get there.

3. Provide honest feedback and share your faults

Some of the best mentors are the harshest critics, so don’t be afraid to offer some constructive criticism, followed by advice on how to improve.

Keep feedback specific and neutral – critique an action or a behaviour, not their personality – and also make it a two-way conversation!

Good mentors can help their mentees realise their own mistakes or areas of improvement with insightful questions, rather than simply telling them what to do. This is known as the ‘Socratic method’ – try it by asking questions such as:

  • “What went right?”
  • “What could have gone better?”
  • “What could you do differently in the future?”
  • “What assumptions are you making here?”
  • “Are there alternative viewpoints you’ve not considered?”

Equally, be open to sharing your own mistakes and failures! This will enable you to build trust with your mentee quicker and will strengthen the relationship overall.

Admitting faults will make you more human and approachable, and is likely to also encourage mentees to be more open about their own mistakes with you.

4. Let your mentee do the driving, and don’t be afraid to challenge them

To be a good mentor, you must realise that it’s your job to provide the directions, not to drive the car.

Think of yourself as a driving instructor in a passenger’s seat. You can encourage them to tackle more challenging routes and give your advice, but ultimately, they’re in control of the vehicle.

Use the Socratic method we just discussed, and get your mentee to arrive at the conclusion you want by asking them thought-provoking questions. Remember, you’re a guide – not a manager and not a parent figure. Point them in the right direction but let them figure out the way.

It’s important to also always expect more from your mentee. This will mean you naturally challenge them and push them out of their comfort zone, which is when some of the best learning happens!

Find out more about how to keep your mentoring sessions productive in our guide

5. Take action and open doors

Mentors who follow through with actions are the ones who stand out the most!

Take note of the areas in which your mentee wants to grow, and always look for opportunities to point them in the right direction.

Remember to:

  • Recommend relevant books, events, podcasts, blogs or classes
  • Seek out or create projects related to skills your mentee wants to develop
  • Introduce them to appropriate people in your network
  • Enable quick wins by establishing short-term goals and measuring their success
  • Celebrate your mentees’ progress by recapping their accomplishments

At its core, being a mentor is being a trusted advisor. It involves making yourself available to support and advise someone when they need it, delivering that support in a way that makes sense to them, and always keeping that person’s best interests in mind.

Being a mentor is an amazing and rewarding thing to do, read this article for more tips on how to start mentoring programs, and we wish you the best of luck on your mentoring journey

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Advice for Mentors

How to Run a Successful Mentoring Intro Session With Your Mentee

So you’ve decided to become a mentor! Well done – we need people like you.

Once you’ve been matched with your mentee, by your HR team or through mentoring software, you can start thinking about your first session.

The intro – or ‘chemistry’ – session between a mentor and mentee is crucial, as it will dictate whether the relationship develops, or whether the fit isn’t quite right.

From working with hundreds of mentors here at Guider, we’ve analysed the best way to run a successful intro session with your mentee – here’s a step by step list to get started:

Before the Intro Session:

1. Research your mentee

First thing’s first, read up on your mentee! Take a look at their profile (or questionnaire answers depending how your mentoring programme is run), and familiarise yourself with their background, skills and goals before your intro session.

Take a look at their Linkedin profile too to learn more about their past experience, and note any things you have in common which could be useful for ice breaker conversation.

2. Brush up on your expertise

Take some time to remind yourself of your biggest strengths and achievements. You don’t want to end up giving your autobiography, so prior to your intro session, make sure you’ve reflected on your experience and noted areas you believe you can work on with your mentee.

Remember: this intro session is all about finding alignment and chemistry so you can embark on a mentoring journey together, so it’s best to discuss expertise that is highly relevant to their goals / career desires.

3. Double check the logistics

This may sound obvious, but make sure that you and your mentee know where and when you are meeting for your session (if it’s in person). Or if it’s a video call, check in over email beforehand and test the video link in advance to avoid any technical delays!

During the Intro Session:

1. Ask open questions

Don’t drive straight into the meaty stuff – ease your way into the session by asking open and general questions about your mentee’s background, their education, interests and career to date. This is also a good time to chat about any mutual interests or hobbies you may have learnt about!

Questions like this work well to kick off discussion:

  • “Where did you grow up?”
  • “Could you tell me about your career journey so far?”
  • “When and why did you join the company you’re currently at?”

2. Introduce yourself

Tell your mentee about yourself. Include an overview of your career journey, key achievements, passions and interests, and why you wanted to be a mentor.

Try to link as much as possible to areas where their interest also lies, to find common ground and highlight how you can help them learn and grow.

3. Stress confidentiality

It’s good to remind your mentee that everything they say or discuss is entirely confidential and stays between you two.

This is especially relevant for internal mentoring in organisations – do your best to make your mentee feel at ease and comfortable to open up to you!

4. Discuss their goals

Get an idea about what development areas or goals your mentee wants to achieve, and in what timeframe. Discuss ways you believe you can help them get there, with as many actionable suggestions as possible.

Note: It’s important to be honest at this stage if you don’t feel like you can help them or you don’t think your expertise is relevant to a particular goal.

How To Set Goals (And Actually Achieve Them)

5. Set mutual expectations

Discuss your working style and set your own boundaries. Be open with your mentee by explaining your limitations and how you want to work together. This includes how often you should meet, how long you want the sessions to be, and how you prefer to communicate.

After the Intro Session:

1. Book the next session

We’d recommend comparing calendars at the end of your intro session, then you can follow up with an email invite for the next session afterwards. If you agreed to a regular meeting time that works for both of you, you can even make this calendar invite recurring.

2. Share relevant materials

Remember to send over the links to any relevant articles, events, books or podcast recommendations you may have discussed in your intro session.

This sets the precedent of good communication and following up, showing that you’re dedicated to the relationship and their development.

3. Get connected!

If you haven’t done so already, connect with your mentee on LinkedIn.

The first mentoring session is all about finding chemistry. Getting to know their background, career and personality will help you understand their goals and challenges a lot better.

You may not have too much time to start giving advice, but don’t worry, that will come in proceeding sessions! Don’t rush it. The majority of the intro meeting will be about getting to know each other and seeing how you can work together going forward.

Good luck!

For more expert tips, check out our guide on How To Be A Great Mentor.