One way to harness the power of mentoring is for mentor and mentee to study something together. I employ this practice in one of my current mentoring relationships. My mentee and I choose a topic and find a book or article related to the topic to read between our monthly sessions It’s been an excellent way for both of us to learn and to guide our discussions.
Here are some tips to make this work for you:
Agree on the mechanics.
Decide who will choose the reading and how much of it you will discuss at the next meeting.
Keep it relevant.
Make sure that the topic is related to the mentee’s goals. In mentoring, learning is always for the sake of development, and it should be tailored to the mentee’s learning objectives.
Right-size the homework.
Nothing kills follow-through like being overwhelmed. If you choose a book, break it into chapters and agree to read a few chapters, The idea is to generate enthusiasm for learning together, not to slog through the material.
Come prepared to discuss.
Remember that this reading is just for enlightenment; it is an opportunity to learn together. Mentors, resist the temptation to teach or lecture. Plan on discussing what you learned and how you think this might relate to your mentoring objectives.
Create an implementation plan.
I used to live in Washington, DC, where there are crazy long escalators that go down to the metro stations. There are times I would feel like the ride on the escalator was as long as the rest of my commute. Some people hate those escalators, and even have nightmares about getting stuck on one and never making it home! Like many fears, there is no explaining this one. Even if the escalator abruptly broke down, you wouldn’t be stuck on it. You could always walk up-or down the escalator to get to your next destination.
The reliance on reading to create change is a little like waiting for someone to fix the escalator. At some point, you may have to use the skills you have to get the results you want. Knowledge will only get you so far. After you discuss your learning, create an action plan to bring that learning to life.