At one time or another every mentoring relationship faces hitches, glitches or stumbling blocks. Here are five of the most common problems and some possible solutions.
Problem 1: Breach of confidentiality
Solution: Be sure to set up an agreement about confidentiality early in your relationship. If there is a problem later on you can always refer back to that agreement. If there is a breach, don’t let the situation fester. Deal with it directly and immediately. Renegotiate confidentiality ground rules to eliminate lingering doubts.
Problem 2: Lack of spirited participation and mutual engagement
Solution: Regularly evaluate your learning process, the progress towards goals and satisfaction with the relationship. If you and your mentoring partner find yourselves in a rut doing “the same old same old,” brainstorm a list of new learning opportunities, including those that will reinforce, accelerate and push new learning forward. This will help keep the learning fresh and momentum moving forward.
Problem 3: Procrastination
Solution: Frequently job demands may make it difficult to carve out the time for your mentoring relationship. Remember that taking time ultimately saves time. There are a number of options for overcoming this stumbling block: (a) examine priorities, (b) renegotiate your mentoring work plan, (c) work on your time management skills, or (d) consider calling time out if you need to regroup.
Problem 4: Poor follow-through
Solution: Poor follow-through results when mentoring partners fail to clearly define what needs to be done from one session to the next .Try reviewing your mentoring to-do list at regular intervals. A journal or notebook can serve as a handy reminder tool and also a way to keep the relationship on course.
Problem 5: Don’t seem to be making any progress
Solution: Revisit your learning goals. They may be fuzzy, too big , or too lofty to realistically accomplish. Break each goal, into specific objectives and identify strategies to achieve them. Celebrate the mini-milestones as you accomplish each of them.
When you experience a hitch, glitch or stumbling block . . .
- Check it out immediately.
- Talk openly and candidly with your mentoring partner in a collaborative, problem solving way by:
- Letting go of personal issues and positions
- Focusing on the facts.
- Describing the problem.
- Coming to a shared understanding of the issue.
- Brainstorming possible new strategies.
- Choosing the strategy that has the highest likelihood of success.