Have You Set the Right Tone for Mentoring Success?

Have You Set the Right Tone for Mentoring Success?

The Importance of the First 90 Days

It’s a fact: The first 90 days sets the tone for your mentoring relationships! According to Lory Fischler, co-author of Starting Strong (Jossey-Bass 2014), “Many mentoring relationships don’t actually survive the three-month milestone. That’s because they start with good intention and energy but get derailed by lack of time, structure, purpose, progress and accountability.”

We’ve identified six essential conversations that we believe ought to take place during the first 90 days of a mentoring relationship to ensure that it starts strong and stays focused. These conversations set the tone for mentoring success.

Conversation #1: Mentoring partners often jump into mentoring too soon and fail to take the necessary time to get to know one another. When mentoring partners spend time to build their relationship by engaging in real conversation, they are better able to establish the high level of trust that is critical for learning and growth.

Conversation #2: Once trust has been established, it is time to decide how to structure your mentoring relationship and your meetings so that you stay on track. By proactively talking about ground rules, confidentiality, hot buttons and boundaries, mentoring partners avoid problems along the way.

Conversation #3: A robust series of conversations about the mentee’s goals is often more important than the process of formally defining them. Through conversation an effective mentor facilitates mentee understanding about his or her needs and the areas of potential growth necessary to meet those goals.

Conversation #4: Once goals have been identified, it’s time to talk about how to achieve them. This is accomplished by identifying learning opportunities to support and challenge the mentee — to encourage a mentee to stretch and stand outside his or her comfort zone. This where true growth and development occur.

Conversation #5: Along the way, there may be stumbling blocks that get in the way of the relationship. Holding a conversation to address them as soon as they occur keeps the focus on progress and forward movement.

Conversation #6: The three-month milestone is ideal for holding a two-way feedback check-in conversation. By addressing meaty questions (i.e., “What has been the biggest learning to date? What are we doing that is providing value? What is working and what could be better?”) both mentor and mentee receive feedback that enables them to elevate their individual skills.

You won’t want to miss our day-long conference, Making Mentoring Matter: Strategies and Tools for Individual Development and Organizational Effectiveness on Wednesday. May 4, 2016 in Bellevue, WA., where Lory Fischler will be presenting a workshop entitled “Starting Strong: The First 90 Days.”

Start the New Year Out with Starting Strong

Start the New Year Out with Starting Strong

Starting Strong provides a view inside six successful mentoring conversations that take place over 90 days. The reader is privy to the thoughts and reflections of both the mentor and mentee, and gets to observe the personal dynamics of a successful mentoring relationship as it unfolds. It’s an excellent training resource because it models how good mentoring should look and feel.

Cynthia is one of the mentors you meet in the book. She is an experienced mentor who is committed to her own growth and development as a mentor and the growth and development her mentees.

The story of Cynthia and her Gen-Y mentee unfolds over 90 days (six mentoring meetings) and you get to sit in on each of them. You will hear their private thoughts before, during and after their meetings. At the end of each chapter, you will find questions to prompt personal reflection and spark conversation about the chapter content.

Cynthia learned the hard way about how to create a successful mentoring partnership. After a few failed mentoring relationships of her own, she grew from the experience. By the time she launched her next relationship, she was savvier and had a clearer understanding of what it takes to achieve tangible results.

What made the difference for Cynthia? What did she do differently that made her more successful?

In Starting Strong, you will learn about Cynthia’s strategies for mentoring success:

  1. Cynthia recognizes that her mentee will be uneasy as the more junior employee, mentored by a senior executive. She takes time to get to know him and put him at ease before launching into the work of mentoring.
  2. Some key structures and agreements help set the tone and expectations for progress and accountability. The mentee, who is new to mentoring, thought mentoring was an informal drop-in relationship.
  3. Learning is the purpose and product of mentoring — and its goals drive the learning. Mentors and mentees alike struggle with goal setting. It can be tempting for mentees to pick goals they can easy achieve or that aren’t relevant to their work success.
  4. Application of skills and learning are a critical part of mentee success.
  5. Stumbling blocks are inevitable in mentoring relationships. Mentors and mentees need a confidential, safe place to get coaching around issues that surface.
  6. The 90-day mark is an excellent time to schedule a check-in with mentoring partners.

The conversation playbook guides you so that you can engage in parallel conversation with Cynthia and her mentee. It prepares you for your mentoring sessions by suggesting appropriate conversation topics, starters and probing questions to use to build a solid foundation for your own mentoring relationships during the first 90 days.

Whether you read the book or listen to the audible.com version, there is plenty to talk about. Start the new year and get a book group conversation started.