Mentoring Tips

Article by:  Team AVTAR I-WIN

Mentoring is an important tool that organizations can use to nurture and grow their people. Mentoring is a powerful form of interpersonal knowledge management. A good mentor not only needs to be more than just a successful individual, but must have also have a keen interest and desire to develop other people.

Being a good mentor requires more than just experience. It requires a willingness to reflect and share on one’s own experiences, including one’s failures.

What is Mentoring? – Mentoring is a positive developmental partnership, which is driven primarily by the mentee. It offers a reflective space where the mentee can take responsibility for and discuss their development. Its primary aim is to build capability and self-reliance in the Mentee. They can help clarify the Mentee’s perspective while bringing an additional impartial view to bear on the issues. Sometimes, when the issues are straightforward and urgent, a Mentor might offer advice or give some direction.

Confidentiality, trust, understanding and positive expectation are key to a successful partnership!

Who is a Great Mentor? – A great mentor should be both warm and wise, should be able to gain credibility and make people feel comfortable. Also he/she must be challenging and also guide people to find creative solutions.

The Role of a Mentor- Offer advice that helps mentee develop – NOT to make decisions for mentee or micromanage. They must train to be efficient as well as remember that guidance and advice for one mentee may not be appropriate for another. Being aware of potential pitfalls i.e.  overdependence of mentee, mentee exploitation of mentor’s influence etc. are also some of the key points in developing mentor-mentee relationship.

The Role of a Mentee- is to seek counsel and advice, and not be a supervisor who directs actions. They must synthesize the lessons learned from all mentors and become their own person. Similar to how a good mentor should be aware of the potential pitfalls, a mentee too should be aware of the same, i.e., being cautious of an overbearing mentor, or a mentor who exploits their work etc. They must also be sensitive to the difference between asking for help/advice from their mentor and demanding favors from their mentor.

General Mentoring guidelines- Become a mentor if you enjoy spending time with others and helping them succeed. Establish a good mentoring relationship by discussing the expectations your mentee has of you as well as the expectations you have of your mentee. Be open with your mentee on how much time you’ll be available for them. Agree on when and where you’ll hold discussions and the CONFIDENTIALITY of it.

It is heartening to note that formal mentoring programs are offered by 85% of 2018 Working Mother & AVTAR 100 Best Companies for Women in India, as way of career enhancement for their employees. 81% of the companies also train their mentors to help them be more effective as mentors. These programs are gender agnostic and in 2017 over 79,000 women and close to a lakh of men underwent formal mentoring in the 2018 -100 Best. In their pursuit of creating inclusive work environments, the 2018-100 Best also offer customized mentoring programs for people with disabilities and employees who are members of the LGBTQIA community. For the record, 15% of the 2018-100 Best have exclusive mentoring programs for PwDs and 11% for LGBTQIA employees.

All in all, Mentoring is not for everyone – it takes an investment of time, a commitment to help others, and… a lot of patience. But, it can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Think of yourself as a “learning facilitator” rather than the person with all the answers. Help your mentee find people and other resources that go beyond your experience and wisdom on a topic. Emphasize questions over advice giving. Use probes that help them think more broadly and deeply. If he or she talks only about facts, ask about feelings. If he or she focuses on feelings, ask him or her to review the facts. If he or she seems stuck in an immediate crisis, help him or her see the big picture. Limit your urge to solve the problem for him or her. When requested, share your own experiences, lessons learned, and advice. Emphasize how your experiences could be different from his or her experiences and are merely examples. Reflect on your mentoring practice as well as request feedback. Lastly, Enjoy the privilege of mentoring. Know that your efforts will likely have a significant impact on your mentee’s development as well as your own