I am asked on numerous occasions to respond to questions regarding mentoring, mentoring process and how mentoring can bring value to individuals and/or organizations. Here are some of those questions and my responses.
Q: Is a mentor crucial to success?
A: Mentoring focuses on personal and professional growth and we can have success in both of those areas. Anytime that you can have someone walk beside you as you continue your growth personally and professionally it is a good idea - in fact highly recommended.
When I look back over my career and where I am today I would not have achieved the success that I have had without the benefit of numerous mentors. These mentors have helped me grow on a personal and professional basis.
The short answer to your question is, “can you afford not to?”
Q: Who is an unlikely mentor and why?
A: Mentoring is a two way trusted relationship where the mentor and mentee will learn and grow together personally and professionally. It is all about building a trusted relationship and for the mentor to be able to create that safe environment for the relationship to nurture and grow.
To specifically answer your question an unlikely mentor for me would be someone that I could not make a connection with - that there was no chemistry with. I may realize part way into the mentoring relationship that this person cannot provide me with what I am looking for. It would be time to end that relationship and look for someone that can provide me with what I want.
What I am finding with all the mentoring that I am doing - paid and free is that the ability to listen is crucial. Someone that is not a good listener would not be a good mentor for me. Sometimes all we need is to talk our way through the problems that we are dealing with.
Q: If you were to pay someone for business coaching and mentorship, what would you look for?
A: I would be wanting to make sure that there was some form of chemistry between us. I would want them to be comfortable with addressing personal and professional growth. There are some business mentors that are not comfortable with the personal growth challenges. I have good examples of where the relationship went sour because they were not able to build a trusting relationship and unable to connect with the soft skills.
Ideally I would want someone that had some form of training. I recently was certified competent as a mentor and I see the value in that for me and how I mentor and it also has an impact for my mentees.
I would want my mentor to validate regularly that they are bringing value especially when I am paying for the service.
There are lot more variables that can come into play when selecting a mentor based on your criteria. These are some that I get most perspective mentees to consider before entering into an agreement for services.
Q: Can mentoring be a hindrance rather than a help to staff progression?
A: Mentoring if done correctly with a person who is committed to the journey would be more of a help rather than a hindrance.
What gets missed in the professional development via mentoring is the personal aspect. I always focus on the personal growth first in order to remove any obstacles or barriers that may be a hindrance to professional development.
Proper training for mentors in the mentoring process is key to all of this.
Q: What do the best Mentors do?
A: Best Mentors or extraordinary mentors want to be of service. They work with people to guide them on their journey to personal and professional growth. Extraordinary Mentors learn and grow along with the people they serve. There isn’t a time when I haven’t learned something from a mentoring session. Extraordinary Mentors are caring, humble and always put the people they serve first.
A great leader is a great mentor and a great mentor is a great leader.
Q: Do you have any mentors? Who are they?
A: I have a number of mentors. I have a mentor that provides me with business advice and guidance, someone that fulfills my need for relationships, someone who can advise me on technology but is also a good friend, someone that can advise me on marketing. This is just a sample of the marvelous people that I have been able to surround myself with.
In the majority of the relationships it is mutual growth on a personal and professional basis. We set expectations for our mentoring relationship and then begin the journey together. We check in every so often to make sure that each of us is getting value from our time together.
We all need to embrace the “Gift of Mentoring” and experience a deeper, richer mentoring experience that will help us personally and professionally.
Q: How can we ask questions to our mentor?
A: To answer your question you need to think what am I searching an answer for? Is it something to do with your personal growth or something to do with your professional growth? I would be asking you what is it that you wish to accomplish that has now become a question that you do not have the answer for.
When you begin the mentoring relationship you need to outline the expectations of that relationship. One of the topics may be how do we communicate (ask questions) of each other in a respectful manner.
When I work with people there is lots of dialogue back and forth until we reach a point where I need to listen rather than talk. Sometimes that is to allow the person I am in a mentoring relationship with to ask questions and other times it is to just listen.
If you are unsure still please feel free to reach out to me and we can set up a time to discuss.
Q: What does a mentor want from you?
A: What I hope for is a person that is committed to the mentoring process. They are ready to grow personally and professionally and are willing to do the heavy lifting in the mentoring relationship. They will be accountable for the outcomes whatever they may be. They understand and accept that I am there to guide - not tell them what to do.
Q: Can you have a mentor that you have never met?
A: You most definitely can. When I look at the people I am working with in a mentor partnership the majority I had never met before. They were introduced to me through referral or via my website and then the scheduling of a time to chat. I have had some mentors that I had known before and they became my mentor as they were able to provide guidance in an area that I needed guidance.(technology, finance)
It is important to note that if you have not met before then take the time to build a solid mentoring partnership. I break a mentoring partnership down into three (3) categories. They are; trusting phase, learning and development phase and the maintenance phase. In this case I recommend some extra time in the “trusting phase” in order to get to know your mentor.
Doug Lawrence is the founder of TalentC®.
Doug shows organizations how mentoring will encourage workforce culture to flow in harmony (mentors), improve productivity from employees (mentees), reducing costly employee onboarding improving the bottom line (organizations).
Doug is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner (ICMP), an International Certified Mentor Facilitator (ICMF), and has obtained his Certificate of Achievement – Mentoring and his Certificate of Competence – Mentor from the International Mentoring Community (IMC).
Doug is an international speaker and author about all facets of Mentoring. He published “The Gift of Mentoring” in 2014 with his second book set to publish in 2019.
Doug works with organizations to establish mentoring programs, influence mentoring as a culture, and provides one-on-one direct mentoring for individuals of all backgrounds and levels globally.
To contact Doug: https://calendly.com/doug-lawrence