vi) Mentoring Should Be Widely Available

Mentoring should be widely available. Mentoring is not just for the potential high achievers (A players are around 20% of an organisation); it should include solid citizens or B players (around 70% of an organisation) who are the long-term players in an organisation. Because B players stay longer, they build up institutional knowledge which makes them invaluable whenever the organisation changes, such as when merging, downsizing, opening new offices, etc. They tend to take a longer-term perspective as they have experienced the organisational cycles, ie understood the ups and downs. They tend to focus on organisational goals rather than personal ones as they value stability for themselves and for the organisation. They can exhibit extraordinary patience with career development. They are more likely to be team players who provide balance within the organisation, ie

- provide stability to complement the highly individualistic A players (who sometimes destabilize the organisation and are "high maintenance")

- shore up C players (around 10 percent of an organisation) who might otherwise flounder.

A mentoring relationship must be voluntary on both sides

A fruitful mentoring relationship requires mutual trust and respect. Two people reciprocally choose to help each other, based on affinity and chemistry: consequently, no one should be pressured to be in a mentoring program. If you are ready to be mentored, you will be willing to take risks, ie to go through the painful process of growing.

If the right chemistry is not present, the mentoring relationship will not work. It is best to acknowledge this upfront and quit with the approach of "no blame, no shame".

Mentors don't provide solutions: they facilitate learning

Often, an older person has more conceptual experience and has thought at length about the dynamics of a situation. On the other hand, a younger person is closer to the situation/action. If one supplies the theory, and the other supplies the detailed examples, they can then come together to conceive of a solution. Mentoring should focus on issues other than technical ones, eg cultural (how to think more effectively, and how the work fits in with the values of the overall organisation).

There needs to be a shared passion around some truth to allow people to genuinely share their thoughts. With that energy between the two, they are willing to lay open secrets so that the other person can advise candidly.

Remember: mentors need to focus on the other person and how their thinking is going, rather than doing too much thinking themselves. Furthermore, mentors need to identify the preferred learning style of the mentee, ie is it visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, etc? Once this is determined, then the mentor needs to adjust his approach accordingly.

Usually the mentee has various mental maps in conflict about how to solve the issue/problem/challenge/conflict/situation, etc. The brain needs help to work out how to resolve this situation by either creating a new map or by considering the existing maps.

Mentors can only exist in an organisation imbued with integrity

Mentoring involves advising people on their future and representing the organisation to them. There needs to be alignment between the individuals' and organisation's integrity and values.

Mentoring relationships are not necessarily permanent

Sometimes mentoring may just involve a specific project, and once the project is completed, the mentoring stops.

Mentoring can provide access to a network of relationships.

Mentoring "fast growth" people is a high-leverage strategy

This involves understanding how people take on and handle the difficult challenges and change in the process.

Mentoring provides better value for money than attending training courses and/or conferences as mentoring is one-on-one and focuses on the particular needs of a member of staff.

Mentoring brings out the best in each other

The true reward of mentoring is intrinsic: knowing that in some intangible way you are developing yourself by helping someone else, or helping others to complete themselves, or bringing out the best in each other.

Mentoring is about developing the right behaviours

Developing the right behaviours includes empowering and facilitating.

Empowering behaviours encourage staff to take more personal responsibility for their actions and decisions and involves

- framing questions in such a way as to encourage staff to think through issues; useful questions include

i) what do you think?

ii) why would it be different?

iii) how would this work?

iv) what would this achieve?

v) what are the implications?

- being a resource for removing obstacles

- transferring ownership, and ultimately accountability, to staff

- declining to accept accountability back, even when the going gets tough

- holding back from providing answers (holding back involves not providing the answer, even when the answer is known or believed to be known)


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