v) Focus Of Behaviours

Mentoring should focus on behaviours and outcomes, not personalities; issues and problems, not subjective gripes; constructive development to improve motivation; mentee's growth and performance.

. Mentors and mentees should have face-to-face sessions at least half‐a-day per month. In these sessions, the attitude should be positive while discussing specific activities and issues; the focus is on looking forward to improvements. The mentor should ask open questions, listen, reflect on what is said, and respond appropriately. Self-assessment is encouraged, so don't criticise; the mentee should arrive at the solutions independently, with the mentor offering help and suggestions; focus on improving job performance, not personalities; discuss specific examples, not generalities; be aware of the potential for language misinterpretation, etc.

. The best mentors get their mentees to work things out for themselves by asking a lot of open questions so that individuals come to their own answers, rather than giving instructions or answers or solutions. Interestingly

"...brains are pattern-making organs with an innate desire to create novel connections. When people solve a problem themselves, the brain releases a rush of neuro-transmitters like adrenaline. This phenomenon provides a scientific basis for some of the practices of leadership coaching. Rather than lecturing and providing solutions, effective coaches use pertinent questions and support their clients in working out solutions of their own..."

David Rock et al, 2006

Thus a solution‐focus approach is more powerful than dwelling on problems only.

"...we have a choice when faced with an issue to either drill down to the problem or focus on the solution. A brain-based approach explains how focusing on the solutions actually creates solutions, while focusing on the problems can deepen the problems..."

David Rock et al, 2006a


"...Perhaps any behaviour changes brought about by leaders, managers, therapists, trainers, or coaches is primarily a function of their ability to induce others to focus their attention on specific ideas, closely enough, often enough, and for a long enough time......how, then, can leaders effectively change their own or other people's behaviour? Start by leaving problem behaviours in the past, focus on identifying and creating new behaviours. Over time these may shape the dominant pathways in the brain. This is achieved through a solution-focused questioning approach that facilitates self-insights, rather than through advice-giving..."

David Rock, 2006


"...need to learn to not give advice, or if they give it, they need to be very unattached to their ideas and present them as options instead of dictates..."'

David Rock et al, 2006a

Principles and Advantages of Mentoring

Remember: the role of a mentor is to help the mentee focus their attention on the right thinking and activities

Almost anyone can be an effective mentor

Most people appreciate being asked to assume a role as a mentor, especially if the mentee is not perceived as a threat and will "back off" when scheduled sessions are inconvenient. A mentor does not necessarily need to be regarded as "perfect" to be a valuable source of wisdom, and usually responds well to an enthusiastic mentee.


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