Deena Gornick is an Executive Coach and offers her expert advice and coaching as part of the Bloom mentoring program. Here, she shares with Bloom her advice on how to approach the mentor/mentee relationship once that important first contact has been made.
I want to talk about the single most important aspect of a mentor/mentee relationship: Outcomes. When embarking on a mentoring relationship, you should have a first meeting to assess where you are going together. Both the mentor and the mentee should be clear of the outcome the mentee has for being in this programme, and how you both will measure how she achieves it. Clarity of outcome is essential for the mentor/mentee relationship. It is the dominant focus of every meeting you have together and of all the time in between the meetings for the mentee. It is those days between meetings that the mentee is putting in to practice the insights she has had in her sessions with her mentor.
If you do nothing else other than contract the overall outcome and each outcome for each meeting in pursuit of the overall outcome, then this will hold you well enough in the mentoring space. Skilful active listening, asking questions to get the mentee to think for herself, honouring the silences and thinking space—this will be so useful to the mentee: allowing her space to formulate her thinking and be an active participant in her own development. That is elegant mentoring, the kind that empowers the mentee to move herself forward, and execute her own steps towards achieving her goals.
Your insight and experience are invaluable to the mentee, mentors, and they are yours, and were your solutions. You will learn much from your mentee and the ways forward she formulates under your attention. The balance between asking questions and telling, giving advice, sharing best practice from your perspective can and will feed the mentee’s ability to come up with her own resourceful creative ideas.
Top three key tips for productive Mentoring Sessions:
1. These sessions are for the mentee to develop and achieve her goal. Remind yourself, and each other, at every session, of the goal on the top of this agenda.
2. At the start of each meeting get very clear on what the session outcome is. Contract after that for how you measure it today, and what you need from each other to get there.
3. At the end of each session contract how the mentee will support herself to achieve the actions she has decided. It is not crucial that the mentor supports between sessions. If a check in or other in-between short meetings are planned, contract responsibly and clearly so as to protect important boundaries such as time and privacy.
One huge tip for the mentee:
The more you plan what you want to talk about and what you want to get out of a session, the better chance you have of achieving it. I urge you to do this prior to every session you have with your mentor. If you walk in to a travel agent without a clue as to where you want to go, you stand a good chance of walking out bereft of a ticket. Outcomes are excellent plan-full ways of getting what you want. No one but you can dream your dream, the outcome is the plan that helps it come true.
Find out more about Bloom's mentoring program here