Written in conjunction with Diana Beckford
The relationship should be driven more by the needs and interest of the mentee rather than the expectations of the mentor.
Before I completely understood my role as a Mentor I have to admit, initially, it was very much about me ‘showing others how it’s done’ or ‘telling mentees what to do’.
This was before realising that my central task as a mentor is to support the mentee to discover their own solutions and accomplish their own goals.
I began to appreciate that mentoring is a process which facilitates personal and professional development, and the mentor’s role is to listen, guide and challenge mentees to raise their aspirations.
I came across a really nice quote the other day from an unknown author which I felt captures the essence of mentee-centred mentoring:
A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.
As a mentor we are the ‘someone’ who has that unlimited belief that our mentees can ‘do it’. This, in itself, is usually encouragement enough for our mentees to start believing in themselves, to raise their aspirations and set out on the path of doing their very best to succeed in life – this is the power of positive thinking.
The mentoring relationship requires one of the most precious gifts that you can share with anyone – your commitment, time and non-judgemental attention.
When we are open and present in the moment the mentee, in turn, is more able to open up to their own thoughts and feelings and explore their goals and aspirations in a safe space.
Offering such gifts to our mentees requires a high level of preparedness and self-care – as mentors we need to be relaxed and have space in our hearts and head in order to be able to listen and support our mentees.
Top tips for mentee-centred mentoring:
- Make sure you have a good listening too, and on a regular basis – this will help you put your own needs and problems to one side whilst you listen to your mentee.
- Keep your focus on the Mentee and allow time for them to explore their ideas before offering your own suggestions.
- Maintain a non-judgmental approach – this does not mean you have to agree with everything your mentee says, it’s more about accepting and respecting that what they are saying is their perspective/experiences/beliefs.
- If you notice a discrepancy between what your mentee says they will do and what they actually do it can be very helpful to share this observation. For instance, your mentee may say they want to write a CV and commit to drafting one for you to see in the next session. The next session arrives and no CV is drafted.
- Make time for self-reflection and evaluation to help you grow in confidence and ability. Ask yourself: What did I do well? What could I do differently next time?