Some confusion exists between the sometimes-interchangeable use of the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ when applied to the development and support of leaders
In my opinion, the confusion exists because many people have been using the terms incorrectly for a long time.
The Oxford dictionary defines mentorship as “the advice and help provided by a mentor to a less experienced person over a period of time”
A Business Mentor is an individual, usually older, generally more experienced, who helps guide another individual’s development.
The Business Mentor ‘s role is to guide, to give advice, and to support the client.
A Business Mentor can help a client (often referred to as the mentee) improve his or her abilities and skills through observation, assessment, modelling, and by providing ongoing guidance.
Coaching, on the other hand, can be one-on-one or one-on-many. The client/coach relationship generally has a set duration and is generally more structured in nature than mentorship.
Meetings are scheduled in advance. Coaching assignments are normally short-term and focused on specific development areas/issues and achieving specific, immediate goals.
The following are four keys to establishing successful Business Mentor -Client (mentee) relationships.
Key #1: Develop a Relationship of Trust
- Relationships need to be built before any effective mentoring can take place. An environment of trust and mutuality must be established. It is important for the mentor and client to become acquainted with each other and to build rapport.
- Begin each relationship with a getting-to-know-you session. The Business Mentor should greet the client warmly and help them identify their professional needs and goals.
- The mentor should learn about the clients educational background and experience, and share information about his or her own background and experience.
- In general, the basic mode of Business Mentoring is having meaningful conversations that will move the needle in areas of your clients life or business that matter most to him or her. The conversations automatically help the client to discover the “forest for the trees” – thus bringing clarity to their goals and actions.
- Getting clarity is a side-effect of a good mentoring relationship. The client is very close to their life and business, so it is hard for them to get a “helicopter view” of the same. In a good Business Mentoring relationship, this comes automatically as the mentor is someone who cares about their client’s life and business and by default has a “helicopter view” of both of them.
- The Business Mentor can then continue to build upon the mentees strengths, needs, and goals throughout the mentoring relationship.
Key #2: Define Roles and Responsibilities
Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of both the mentor and the client up front. Typically, a mentee is more receptive to feedback if he or she feels like an active participant in the relationship.
Questions to consider include:
- What will the role of the Business Mentor be?
- What types of mentoring will be most effective?
- What are the specific responsibilities of both the client and the Business Mentor ?
- Being a mentee is not a passive role. When you have a Business Mentor, it’s your job to define your own goals, cultivate the relationship, seek out advice, attend meetings or events you’re invited to, and so on.
Key #3: Establish Short and Long-Term Goals
Establish short- and long-term goals. Business Mentors and mentees should work together to develop mutually agreed goals. These goals then become the basis for the mentoring activities.
Business Mentors need to provide constructive feedback to mentees on goal progression. Mentees should have an opportunity to be reflective on their actions and be given regular feedback to review and discuss.
The mentor can note his or her observations in a positive, constructive manner and describe any actions taken by the mentee in connection to the established goals. Later the mentor and mentees can review the observations and determine the next steps.
Open, respectful, and supportive communication is essential to this process and should include the following:
- Active listening. Business Mentorsmust be skilled at actively listening to concerns. Feelings are important, and greater trust is established when a mentee feels he or she can safely share thoughts and feelings with the mentor.
- Timing is everything. Mentors must be sensitive to the timing of feedback. If emotions are high or a mentee seems defensive, mentors need to back off and reschedule another time for giving feedback or addressing the perceived barriers.
- Value each other’s feedback. Even experienced Business Mentor can learn new ways of thinking and doing things. Mentors and mentees must value and be responsive to each other’s feedback.
The relationship must add value for both parties if it is to be successful and long-term.
Key #4: Collaborate to Solve Problems
Be collaborative in solving problems. Business Mentors need to allow mentees the opportunity to identify concerns and potential solutions. Mentors should encourage mentees to take risks and do things differently by implementing creative solutions.
A good Business Mentor will also open up the doors to curiosity so that you get back that childlike enthusiasm to learn and grow.
Business Mentors can improve the outcome of their mentoring by doing the following with their client:
- Identify the specific concerns. You can measure the commitment of a mentor by the tough questions they ask, with the intent to get you to see things that you are not otherwise seeing and to get you ‘unstuck.’
- Brainstorm possible solutions. The mentor can offer ideas, but the mentee should be allowed to choose which plan to put into action.
- Select a plan to try and discuss and agree desired outcomes.
- Implement the plan. The mentor should be supportive and encouraging, and reinforce successful completion of the plan.
- Assess the outcome together. The mentor and mentee should be reflective and discuss the effectiveness of the activity and make adjustments as needed.
- Try another solution, if needed. It is important for mentors to remember that there are many different ways to address an issue and that the mentor’s way may not be the most effective solution for the mentee or the organisation
- Celebrate successful results. In a good mentoring relationship, a mentor and mentee celebrate their relationship, the mini, micro and macro victories that they co-create together as they build a relationship that steers the mentees Life and Business journey in a compelling way.
Conclusion – Benefits of Business Mentoring
There are many benefits to successful Business Mentoring relationships. Here are some of the main ones:
- Mentees (Senior Executives or Leaders) have a trusted and more experienced advisor to work with them and to bounce ideas off, and provide the wisdom, skills and knowledge that come from experience.
- Mentees are able to learn and grow under the mentor’s guidance.
- A good Business Mentor may not give you strength but will help you discover your hidden strengths and help you move beyond your limiting beliefs.
- Mentees are able to experiment with creative solutions to problems within a safe and supportive environment.
- A good Business Mentor can not only help you choose among the available options at hand, he or she can teach you how to choreograph the sequence of steps so that you get maximum leverage.
So having a suitably qualied business mentor, with the right experience as a trusted advisor, can be a better option.
If this sounds like someting that could work for you, I recommend you read this article:
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