With the increased demand for mentoring in both the personal space as well as the professional space the need to find the right mentor – a trained mentor has become top of mind for many. We have for so long been satisfied with the Traditional style of mentoring – the more senior/older person passing on their wisdom to a much younger person. Times have changed and a “new horizon” has started to evolve creating what I call a paradigm shift in the mentoring space. We are moving away from the Traditional style of mentoring to one that is based on the development of a two way trusted relationship where both parties will learn and develop personally and professionally.
How has this changed the face of mentoring and the skill sets that are required to be an “effective mentor?” In order to be effective we need to be competent at what we do. So what does being competent mean?
“The combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes that contribute to enhanced employee performance and ultimately result in organizational success.”
“Competencies include all the related knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes that form a person’s job.”
An effective mentor would then be a mentor that possesses the knowledge, skills, abilities and attributes required to bring value to a mentoring relationship. Enhancing what we have today in the context of a knowledge based mentoring process to one that is a competency based mentoring process will bring added value to people and to the organizations in which they work. As it is with most applications of a competency framework there is knowledge, skills, abilities and attributes that are a “bring” – you need these to do the basics of the job. There is also the “learn” part – things that you can learn through training whether that be classroom or through various mentoring situations.
Let me share an example. Prior to having any formal mentor training, a mentor would participate in a conversation with their mentee and be formulating in their mind what they were going to tell them to do next in resolving a problem they had. They would have only gleaned part of what the mentee was saying as they were not actively listening. A mentor that was trained would engage in active listening – listening and actually hearing what their mentee was saying. They would be listening for trigger words in the conversation that would guide them to additional questions to ask. They would listen for deflections in the conversation that would signal an area that the mentee is not quite ready to talk about. They would through storytelling guide them to potential solutions asking Socratic based questions to guide them to the answer(s). This would be an example of an “effective mentor” that was competent as they had the knowledge, they demonstrated their skill in the mentoring process, they had the abilities required to provide the service required and they had the attributes of an effective mentor.
This is just one example that shows the application of a competency based model and the need for proper training to ensure a level of competency for mentors. There are obviously other elements to address as part of the competency framework but I wanted to address this part today.
Mentoring is evolving and a “new horizon” for mentoring is beginning to take shape. Whether it be a mentor program or a mentor culture or both they will all be strengthened by this “new horizon” and will further solidify the business value that mentoring can bring to an organization. When you begin your mentoring journey and are searching for an “effective mentor” make sure that you choose wisely. Ascertain how much training and experience they have as the more competent they are the greater success you will realize in your personal and professional growth. Remember, they will also be learning just as much from you!
When you decide to implement mentoring in your organization make sure that you provide some form of training to the participants as it will make the difference between failure and success of your program/culture. “Can you afford not to?”