How do you know if the mentor assigned to you or the one you choose is really supporting you?
You might ask 4 questions: Does your mentor listen? Demonstrate empathy? Share feedback? Review take-aways from new learning with you?
The listening skills of a really fine mentor go beyond fact-checking; beyond judging, beyond problem-solving and are exercised beyond the mentor’s own internal chatter. A truly attentive mentor is good at observing non-verbals; expressing understanding; providing empathy and exercising “other-person” focus.
And then, is your mentor asking, “What do you need from me?’ “What are you ready to take on?” Does your mentor share learnings that worked in a somewhat similar situation? Does your mentor ask you to identify specific goals with real-time starting dates and possible related deadlines?
These are some of the hallmarks of solid mentors who are engaged in the growing process along with the mentees. So what’s your experience? Let us hear a great mentor story from you!
Everybody benefits from developing the personal gift of resilience.
Most likely, successful mentors have already developed this skill, in order to survive and thrive in a variety of workplaces.
Mentees may need encouragement from their mentors to highly value this life skill:
——Resilient people respond to disappointment or a lack of success by learning more about what went wrong and how to do things differently next time around.
——Resilient people take responsibility for their part in work that doesn’t go well.
——Resilient people push themselves to take on new responsibilities and or situations they believe will help them develop new skills or improve skills they already have.
——Resilient people are not self-defensive and they don’t blame somebody else when they get negative feedback.
——And resilient people do the very things they fear, in order to reach new levels of personal growth. They are like bouncing balls, gaining energy and going for a new personal best.
Whether the mentoring program is formal or informal, the relationship between Mentor and Mentee goes through stages similar to those in any meaningful human relationship.
There are at least three fairly clear stages for the mentoring relationship:
- “The Honeymoon” which is marked by a spirit of agreeability.
- “Testing the Boundaries” which is marked by a spirit of disagreeability.
- “Generative” which is characterized by a spirit of mutuality.
It’s that middle phase that can behave the most like stormy weather. So how do you ride it out? For Mentees, keep your eyes firmly set on your personal goals and be candid in all communications. Accept honest criticism in the belief that it will help shape and speed your progress. Keep asking questions until you’re really clear about the answers–But don’t ask the Mentor to solve or fix anything–figure out your way forward with valuable input. For Mentors, recall that your comments and questions–your candor and genuine interest in your Mentee–make all the difference in sailing through the shoals of life. Everyone faces stormy weather at some point in on the job or elsewhere. Mentors are there to support but not to solve; to guide but not to gloss over occasional tough issues. Plan on enjoying that next phase of mutuality–TOGETHER!