Mentoring success depends on the degree to which mentoring partners roll up their sleeves and do the work. Yes, we said, “work.” Throughout your mentoring relationship, you and your mentoring partner need to be fully engaged in building and strengthening your relationship and focused on achieving your mentoring goals.
Mentoring Works Best When Mentees….
- Assume responsibility for their learning, growth, and development
- Set goals
- Hold themselves accountable for agreements
- Monitor their progress regularly
- Maintain receptivity to new, creative, and alternative strategies and ideas
- Are honest, open and willing to be vulnerable
- Communicate regularly
- Are prepared for and open to feedback
Mentoring Works Best When Mentors….
- Commit the time
- Build their relationship up front
- Ask questions rather than to try and solve a mentee’s problems
- Push and challenge their mentee
- Share experiences and challenges
- Offer options rather than answers
- Provide honest, ongoing, and candid feedback with care and compassion
- Maintain regular contact
In a recent survey conducted through our Center for Mentoring Excellence, listening emerged as the top mentoring best practice. Readers of our monthly e-letter, Mentoring Matters, also identified listening as the #1 attribute of a good mentor.
Here’s what they told us about listening:
- Listening at all levels is the most important thing that I do.
- Listening to others and helping them find their own way.
- Listen with an open mind without being judgmental.
- Truly listen so assumptions are not being made.
- Listen fully and carefully before offering your advice or opinion.
- Spend more time listening than talking.
- Listening and questioning to help my mentee reach their solutions.
- Be authentic, be warm, be honest and be an engaged listener.
- Mentors should know themselves well enough to know when their personal strengths or biases cloud the way they listen to and encourage/advise their mentee.
- Hear what is said in between the message, not just listening to what is said.
- Read, observe, listen and ask lots of questions
There is a clear message here about the importance of listening.
Listening serves many purposes in addition to letting mentees know that you care. Listening builds mentee confidence. It lets mentees know they have something meaningful to contribute. Listening encourages them to work out their thinking. Invariably, they arrive at a solution on their own. Mentors often discover that the listening skills they develop through mentoring transfers to other functions, boosting their effectiveness in their other leadership roles.
What can you do to improve your skill at listening?
- Identify the good listeners you know.
- What do they do that shows they are listening?
Make a list of those behaviors and then gauge how you measure up.
- What do you need to do more of?
- What do you need to do less of?
- What is one thing you can work on right now that will help you develop and hone your listening skills?
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Good mentors invite, empower, and inspire their mentee to step boldly into the future. In describing how her mentor accomplished this, one mentee said, “. . . seeing you move always to higher ground… gives me a vision of my future.” (more…)