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Building an effective mentoring relationship for professional development

In Mentoring Myths, the difference between coaching and mentoring was discussed and many of the assumptions made about mentoring and mentoring relationships were examined. .

But how do you build an effective mentoring relationship? Mentoring is all about sharing knowledge and experience with an individual and, in this case, helping them enhance career success. Mentoring develops communication skills for the mentor, as well as providing an experience that organizations see positively for their own professional development.

Brown University asked many professional experts in a mentoring consortium “what makes a good mentor?” and this was an answer:

“Mostly, it’s a person who is willing to share themselves. Most people don’t mentor because they don’t put in the time, they don’t remember what it’s like to be in vulnerable positions, just starting out as a student or as a teacher or in some other endeavour. You don’t learn the ropes anywhere except in a mentoring situation. Mentors are role models, not necessarily in a family relationship. It’s someone you can look up to in a field you want to model yourself. A good mentor is a person who lives an exemplary life. Sometimes you can be a mentor and not even know it.” – George Odell, professor of archaeology, University of Tulsa.

When starting a formal or informal mentoring relationship, there are many factors in making it effective and successful. We’ll explore a few here:

1. The person being mentored must own the mentoring relationship. The responsibility for setting appointments, following up, and developing a strategy does not rest with the mentor. The apprentice will reap the main rewards of the relationship and must be controlled primarily by them. Trainees should have an agenda, questions, or objectives for each session.

2. Mentors should help mentees define their greatest strengths. There should be a real examination of what the individual does best and what his “bliss” is. In the Marcus Buckingham book series beginning with First, break all the rules! . A mentor’s responsibility is to help the individual seek new paths and new ideas, possibly even a different career path than what they expected.

3. Mentors should help the individual find ways to develop new skills. Whether it’s public speaking, communication, or leadership development, the mentor helps identify resources like programs or workshops. The apprentice asks the questions and the mentor aid find the answers.

4. Mentors help mentees build relationships. Because the mentor is more experienced, they have key contacts and subject matter experts in their network that the mentee is unlikely to have. The mentor graciously shares her network, makes introductions, and guides the individual in developing and maintaining these new relationships. .

5. Mentors help the individual find new roles, assignments, or projects that are aligned with career goals. This is most effective in mentoring relationships where you both work within the same organization, but not necessarily. An example might be an accountant who really wants to get involved in the sustainability movement. The mentor (who was sought for this purpose) knows of projects that he can present to the mentee or of positions in other organizations.

6. Mentors and mentees treat the relationship with respect and confidentiality. This means that appointments are made and honored the same as other business appointments and information is not shared unless requested by the trainee. A mentor’s time is valuable, but so is the individual being mentored. You must take great care of the relationship.

7. Mentors and the person being coached can give honest feedback. The mentee is at a vulnerable point when choosing a mentor. Hopefully, the choice was made because there was admiration for the mentor and it can be difficult to express dissatisfaction with the relationship. This is crucial for success! And the opposite is true. Being honest about whether or not the relationship is productive will only make it better. You both also need the freedom to end the relationship if it doesn’t work out. .

A person can have one or several mentors throughout his life. Someone may be mentoring someone informally without even realizing it, but the relationship can have a significant impact on the personal and professional development of both the mentor and the mentee. It’s important to set ground rules and operate from a place of respect to get the most out of this dynamic relationship.