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The Magic of Mentoring

I am really benefiting from some great mentoring at present which is keeping me accountable and moving forwards every week.

However, I also love mentoring others and watching them evolve and grow and would like to share some of the content I will be including in a speaking engagement on the ‘Art of Effective Mentoring’ at the AAT Annual Conference in Stratford on Avon.

The magic of mentoring in engaging and developing future and current leaders is evident on a daily basis. The statistics back this up:

Five-year study of 1000 employees (Gartner):

• 25% of employees who enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary-grade change, compared to only 5% of workers who did not participate

• Mentees are promoted five times more often than those not in a mentoring program

• Retention rates were higher for both mentees (22% more) and mentors (20% more) than for employees who did not participate in a mentoring program

For CEO’s in formal mentoring programs (Harvard Business Review)

• 84% said mentors had helped them avoid costly mistakes

• 84% become proficient in their roles faster

• 9% were making better decisions

DEFINITION: ‘A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modelling positive behaviours.’

While the age of a mentor might seem irrelevant, older individuals often make excellent mentors because of their patience, empathy, and their eagerness to share their wealth of accumulated knowledge and experience.

“I have heard it said that for older adults, mentoring is about living a legacy versus leaving a legacy” David Shapiro, CEO of ‘MENTOR’ The National Mentoring Partnership

Effective mentoring not only provides support for new employees and rising stars, it also helps to create an open, inviting culture that encourages all workers to contribute their ideas for improving the company.

Mentoring in the workplace also encourages goal setting, and in a new ‘Accountemps’ report, 93 percent of the workers surveyed said goal setting is important to their work performance, yet for some professionals, those discussions with managers never happen.

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” – John C. Maxwell

So, who could become a mentor?

  • Anyone who has people working with them or for them who they would like to help to develop to the next level and beyond.
  • Anyone who wants to step up into a more senior role and needs to develop their team to take on more responsibility.
  • Forward-thinking managers who want to provide an environment where everyone is encouraged to generate ideas and share not just knowledge but a commitment to building a successful company.

The many benefits of mentoring for both the Mentor and the Mentee include increased

  • Confidence
  • Transformation
  • Motivation
  • Innovation
  • Productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Recognition
  • Appreciation
  • Engagement
  • Fulfilment

More benefits for Mentors –

  • Realisation of the depth of their knowledge and expertise
  • Teaching what they need to learn and re-enforcing the learnings in themselves and their team
  • Learning from the ideas and challenges of the mentee
  •  Seeing the impact of their mentoring sessions
  • Learning more about different aspects of the business
  • Igniting renewed enthusiasm for the business and their role
  • Sparking up their creativity
  • Experiencing a greater sense of purpose
  • Feeling appreciated and valued
  • Staying up to date with current changes so they can advise their mentee

Companies that run mentoring programmes show a marked increase in engagement and reduction in staff turnover and absenteeism

It is a win – win all round and as always, the more you invest in people the greater the returns

It’s important to set a safe and supportive environment for mentoring and the 10 components on The Thinking Environment will help you to do that –

Meeting in a private space with comfortable seating, natural light and refreshments on tap will go a long way to making your mentee feel valued.

Ensuring you honour your sessions and prevent all interruptions will also set the tone for your commitment and the importance of this time together.

Recognising they may be nervous at first and setting the intention for the sessions and the confidentiality between you will encourage them to open up.

Meeting as an equal, being open to new ideas and fresh insights and appreciating the thoughts of your mentee will encourage them to be completely frank and honest with you.

Some questions to ask in your sessions –

  • Why do you want to be mentored?
  • What would you like to achieve?
  • What have you tried already?
  • What were the results?
  • What could you do to move forwards?
  • What is stopping you taking those actions?

Once goals are discussed and set –

  • When would you like to achieve these goals?
  • What are the first steps you could take?
  • Who do you feel could help you?
  • What obstacles might you encounter?
  • How will you deal with those obstacles?
  • What actions can I keep you accountable for?
  • When will you take the first steps?

Question any limiting assumptions or beliefs that may be stifling their confidence and progress recognizing that these may stem back from childhood and need to be handled with care.

Make sure you follow up with a summary of the session and a list of their actions – if it’s a monthly session p- checking in with them after 2 weeks will help to keep them on track and iron out any obstacles.

Be Fully Present

One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of ‘undiluted listening’. Leaving whatever is going on in your world outside the door and just being totally ‘present’ for your mentee. Listening to understand and for as long as they need without interruptions. They will not only feel listened to, they will feel ‘heard’ and understood.

Bringing the best version of ‘YOU’to the session will enable you to also give your best. When we invest in ourselves, we have so much more to give to those around us.

The wellbeing chart below sums up the 4 main areas of self-care that will power us up to most effective.

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Many people don’t put themselves forward to be a mentor because they feel they should have all the answers and of course no-one can know everything!

You are not there to be the fount of all knowledge, you are there as a sounding board, a listening ear and someone with relevant experience who can help people top rise to the next level and beyond.

Of course, it is important to stay up to date in your industry sector so you can provide as much value as possible, but whatever you don’t know you can either find out or recommend someone who will have the answers.

A lot of people put pressure on themselves and think it will be way too hard for them to live out their dreams.

Mentors are there to say,

Look, it’s not that tough. It’s not as hard as you think. Here are some guidelines and things I have gone through to get to where I am in my career.” Joe Jonas

Remember this is not about you or creating clones of you, it is about developing the natural skills and strengths of your mentees.

In Summary

• Mentoring brings many benefits to both mentor and mentee

• Preparation is key to successful mentoring

• Create an environment inducive to sharing and learning

• Bring the best version of ‘YOU’ to every session

• Give the gift of undiluted listening

• Follow up every session with summary and actions

• Keep mentee accountable.

• Enjoy!

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This article was first posted on Linkedin by Sylvia Baldock, Managing Director at Sylvia Baldock Speaks enables Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs to recognise the unique value they bring to the workplace and to lead with confidence and purpose.