I have been asked to be a Mentor.
It has become a worldwide practice for an employer to assign a mentor to employees who are new or less experienced, in order to bring out their best potential. This in return will translate into a more efficient employee, and even higher profits for the employer and the company they are running. Thus it is in the employers’ interest to assign mentoring duties to an individual who will bring out the best of those individuals being mentored.
Mentors are not chosen at random, and if one has been assigned mentoring duties, it is a sign of the employers trust in the individual to perform such a duty within the workplace. Having been chosen to mentor, also indirectly implies that they are now responsible for the improvement of the staff members assigned as mentees. It is the Mentors responsibility to Thus as a Mentor these are the basic questions to ask in order to identify details regarding the: Who? Where? What? Why? How? of mentoring.
Mentoring is a serious process of professional development an individual goes through within a company, and it is the Mentors’ responsibility to achieve the set goals, as much as it is for the Mentee to reach the same set goals. Preparation is thus as important as the actual mentoring. The Mentor is responsible for creating a safe and trusting space that enables the mentee to break out of their comfort zone and take risks.
In order to prepare well, the Mentor needs to dedicate enough time to research and identification of the elements of this task. Identifying the Aims and Goals of the mentoring sessions, and the type of audience and number of individuals being mentored is a good starting point. It is understandable that it is not always possible for a Mentor to have all the details readily available at hand and some background work is required by the Mentor in order to make the most of their meeting with their assigned mentee. An example of reflective questions can be found in ‘An Introduction to Mentoring Principles, Processes, and Strategies for Facilitating Mentoring Relationships at a Distance’, by A.T. Wong and K. Premkumar.
What information do you have about your prospective mentee?
What additional information do you need?
What questions will you ask your prospective mentee to gather this information?
What information can you gather from other sources? List sources and information that you can gather.
What more do you need to know about your mentee as a learner in order to have a better sense of his or her journey?
[An Introduction to Mentoring Principles, Processes, and Strategies for Facilitating Mentoring Relationships at a Distance’, by A.T. Wong and K. Premkumar]
Building Relationships and Sharing Knowledge with Mentees
The foundation of successful mentoring is a motivating and trusting relationship between the Mentor and the Mentee. Whereas the relationship between a coach and those being coached, is usually a temporary relationship, the relationship between a Mentor and a Mentee differs in that it is open-ended.
The Mentor will listen to the mentee with attentively during mentoring sessions, checking for understanding and not taking anything for granted or making assumptions. When speaking it is important for the Mentor to be clear in the way they articulate and in the way they use adequate non-verbal cues. Communication needs to be two-way whereby there is time for listening and time for speaking.
The Mentor and mentee together develop a relationship of trust and mutual respect. They are two different indviduals, and it is important that a mentor understands such difference in orde to improve on conversations with their mentees, deepen the relationship and the learning, and initiate creative thinking. It is equally important for the Mentor to keep such a relationship professional and to set some ground rules which benefit the Mentor and the Mentee.
Finally, the Mentor is to be encouraging, inspiring and motivating to the mentees, at various stages of the mentoring journey, as the mentor deems appropriate. Setting an example through own actions, modelling the right behaviour and the processes which reflect good practices, and which in return are to be emulated by the mentees. This also includes subtle aspects such as behaviour with mentees, wherby establishing a respectful environment for learning and involving the mentees in planning their learning, setting realistic goals and establishing a notion of self-reflection, the mentees will become part of the solution in their working career.