Written by: Connie Deinni
I have occasionally heard mentors lament, “I just don’t know if I am making an impact for my mentee!” I always assure them, that indeed, they do make an impact and to give themselves some credit. Looking for a few tips to gage whether you are on track as a mentor?
Here are 6 specific ideas from successful mentors that I have seen work well:
1. Provide Shadowing Opportunities
Utilize your regular routine of meetings, client visits and presentations to provide shadow opportunities for mentees. Allow the mentee to assume the role of a “fly on the wall” in these situations. The value they gain from listening and watching a variety of meeting engagement protocols is invaluable; mentors take meeting protocol for granted, but this is new insight for a mentee.
They’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, what’s appropriate and will be able to recall these lessons in the future when they find themselves in similar situations. These meetings may be mundane to you, but don’t underestimate the power of observation for mentees.
2. What are you reading?
Do you receive a regular printed newspaper? Highlight a particular article and pass it along to the mentee.
Do you receive online publications or newsletters? Forward to your mentee and invite them to sign up online.
Select an article from one of your online sources, send to your mentee and suggest they read it and be prepared to discuss at your next regularly scheduled mentoring meeting.
Have you read a good book lately? Lend your copy to your mentee or better yet, buy them a copy and write an inspirational message inside the front cover.
3. Embrace a Mentoring Network
Don’t attempt to be the sole source of information for your mentee. This is draining, exhausting and just plain hard work for you. As a mentor, you are surrounded by colleagues and networks who possess a wealth of information. Invite a colleague to your next meeting with your mentee and introduce a new relationship.
One of the most valuable aspects of a mentorship is assisting mentees to build their own networks and resources. Allow your colleagues to provide their perspective on topics that are beneficial to the mentee.
4. Ask for Mentee Feedback in Writing
The best way of knowing that you are making a connection with your mentee is to ask them! Ask your mentee to provide a short paragraph or two (email, handwritten or texted) detailing the top three important ideas they have taken away from your last encounter. You will be surprised at what you hear!
5. Create Small Project-based Activities
This doesn’t need to be a heavy time commitment for either you or the mentee. But, the project does need to be effort that is perceived as valuable by both you and the mentee. Perhaps it is brainstorming a challenge you are currently facing or a project in the office or workplace that has been sitting idle for some time.
The value gained by the mentee from working side by side with a mentor to collectively solve a problem is immeasurable!
6. Continually Calibrate at each Engagement
Review any goals that were set by the mentee as part of each engagement. Are you on track? If not, establish two or three action steps that will move you in the right direction. Are the goals still relevant? If not, establish a new goal or adjust the current goal.
When the goals were originally set the mentee may not have known what to even ask for as part of the mentorship, now that the relationship is better established, don’t be afraid to adjust the goals to fit your relationship.
Follow these six proven tips to improve your mentoring, and you’ll see remarkable gains on the investment of time you’re making with your mentees.
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