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FIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTOR-SHIP SKILLS

Five ways to improve your mentor-ship skills is worth to know for any mentor before doing any mentoring. Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.

Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psycho-social support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less

What is a mentor?

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A mentor is someone who will encourage and support a mentee to make the most of their career or business. As a mentor, the role is to be a trusted confidante, helping the mentee to make informed choices. Although the final decisions are always in the mentee’s hands, a mentor can be invaluable in guiding the mentee to consider the options, get new information and identify the support they need.

Good mentoring relationships can be richly rewarding both for the mentee and for the mentor themselves.  Mentors can provide valuable learning experiences for their mentees and expand their mentees’ awareness, insight and perspective.  As a mentor, you do not have to have all the answers.  Sometimes the best answers for your mentee will come from their own thinking with the help of your wisdom to support them.

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1. Understand Personal desires by Active listening:

Mentors need good listening skills. This is easy to say, but difficult in practice. The brain capacity to process information is four times the speed we can speak. This means the mind can easily wander off due to this spare brain capacity. Our ears are constantly taking in and interpreting sound. Consequently, 99 per cent of sensory input is filtered out to prevent overload. For these reasons, what people are really saying can be missed if we are not present in the conversation.

Being present means stilling the mind, suspending judgment, postponing analysis and being able to concentrate and attend all the messages – what they say, how they are saying it and what they are not saying. Effective listening involves feeding back what you think are the relevant points to the speaker and checking that what you heard is what they meant.

2. Act as a sounding board:

Act as a sounding Board plays a vital role among 5 ways to improve your mentorship skills Mentees benefit from the opportunity of having a good mentor listen to them.  Allow them to explore their thoughts and ideas openly with you.  Sharing their concerns with you will help them navigate their potential course of action and discover insights into their own thinking.  During these conversations, you can share your experiences without making decisions for your mentee.

Mind maps, can be a useful tool in mentoring relationships. Start by writing and circling the issue or topic that needs exploring in the centre of a page. Next, draw out the issues associated with the central topic and place them in the map as branches radiating from the central topic. Each of these associated issues can be explored and developed in the same way. The resulting mind map can be used to evaluate which ideas are most important and worth pursuing first and which are less relevant to the situation. This can be a useful technique for a mentee having difficulty seeing his or her way forward.

Be a sounding board, allow them to discuss the situation, and help them think through the situation by asking open questions to draw out the consequences of various actions.  This approach can be empowering to the mentee because it helps them work through the issue and come to their own conclusions.  Ultimately, this will help them learn to think through the issues themselves and trust their own judgment, both valuable life skills.  Then, if asked, provide advice.3.Provide a fresh perspective

A good mentor will often provide their mentee with a fresh perspective on an issue.  Having clarity of distance from an issue or problem can allow the mentor to provide objective feedback to the mentee.  They can also help the mentee understand what others might think of the situation. It helps to solve problems and gain clarity. Mentees always be seeking to renew their minds.  In fact, if you are stuck, a fresh perspective may be just what you need to become unstuck.

3. Use open-ended questions like

What?

Who?

Where?

When?

Why?

How?

A mentoring relationship is a personal one and often very important to the mentee.  Get to know your mentee on an individual and personal level.  Learn about their hopes, dreams, and goals beyond their current career decisions.  Understanding their personal desires for their future will help them in a way that meets their personal best interest. Mentoring is about getting a person to open up and talk more, as this often results in the mentee finding their own solutions. Mentoring is not about the mentor doing all the talking and providing the mentee with all the answers. A mentor may need to probe to unlock thoughts, feelings, aspirations, goals, values and priorities. A mentor can use questions such as: “Can you expand more on that?” and “Tell me more about that”. Asking open-ended questions will help the information gathering process.  The same applies to the mentor/mentee relationship.  Ask open questions and allow the mentee to speak freely about their needs, values, and passions.  Asking open questions will allow your mentee to think through situations themselves and draw out the consequences of the various choices or courses of action they can take.

4. Seek out new experiences:

Good mentors will seek out experiences or create situations in which their mentees can become involved to learn new things.  Take the time to find and offer opportunities to your mentee whether it be job opportunities, speaking engagements, research opportunities, scholarship or grant, and leadership opportunities.  Match your new understanding of their personal interest with new opportunities. Life is all about experiences. Our past experiences shape the person we are today .Our new experiences can shape the person we become.  Make them to feel that their life can be mare than what they dreamed of.

Encourage the mentee to add realistic timescales and to be prepared to move between differing versions rather than to stick rigidly to one, so that failing at certain hurdles does not have such a big impact. In time one clear career path may emerge from this process. Identifying small steps towards bigger goals can be of great value.

5. Build Confidence:

There are many mentee’s who may have experienced  going through anxiety and this is often prevalent in refugee and asylum seeking children who may have come with life experiences that have been traumatic and impacted their confidence.

Every person has a talent of their own and as a mentor; it is most beneficial to encourage your mentee in pursuing their talents. When a young person achieves something or does something well there is nothing better than giving them praise and telling them, how pleased you are with their progress.  Ensure that you tap into their strengths and take interest in their hobbies. If you want to nurture confidence in your mentee, it is important to ensure that you let them grow to reach their full potential. Build your mentee’s confidence by acknowledging achievements they might have forgotten.  Remind them of the positive accomplishments they made along the way.  Remember to celebrate their successes on your mentoring journey. Further an essential characteristic of a mentoring program is the level of mutual trust and respect between the mentor and the mentee. A systematic and ongoing process builds a partnership between the involved parties. Effective communication is a necessity if the mentorship program is to be successful. Mentor, his way of thinking, grasping and partaking information is an essential characteristic of any mentoring program. Two essential characteristics of an excellent mentoring program are confidence and self-esteem in the mentor.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick… an ear to listen…and a push in to the right direction” – John C Crosby

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Other Suggested Reads: Want to be a better mentor? 7 surprising ways to improve

5 ways to become a good mentor

– Padmadinesh

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