A mentor is someone who has the experience to support and encourage others to develop their skills, improve their performance and achieve their career and personal goals.

Mentoring is not just telling someone what to do when they come to you seeking guidance. It is not a cosy chat once a month or the appraisal and development planning conversation. It is a value-adding process based around a clear goal the mentee wants to achieve and you as the mentor are supporting them by helping them to investigate all possibilities and routes to achieving that goal.

How to be a good mentor

So what does it take to be a mentor? A mentor is someone who is interested in:

  • Helping others to learn and grow and find their own directions
  • Giving back to the business/industry, which has given a lot to them as they developed their own career
  • Nurturing talent and retaining quality people in the business
  • The personal satisfaction of seeing another succeed, thanks (in part) to your influence and support

Ideally they should be someone that has ‘been there and done it’ so that they can share their experience and knowledge. They may also have the same qualifications the mentee is working towards and have expertise in delivering results and skills in influencing and communication.

The mentor needs to pay attention to the needs of the mentee and offer the appropriate ‘function’. The first function visioning will help to get a clear picture of where they are going and motivate them by sharing inspirational stories. Challenge, the second function, stretches them to grow in skills and confidence and; support the third function, lets them know they have the resources they need to make the changes and to encourage them along the way.

Mentoring skills

Depending on what you want to achieve in the mentoring relationship, you will need to develop your skills to work at the appropriate level. In their book “Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring” Megginson and Clutterbuck identify seven layers of dialogue:

1. Social – developing friendship and providing support/encouragement by demonstrating an interest in the mentee and actively seeking common interests.

2. Technical – meets the mentees needs for learning about work processes, politics and systems.

3. Tactical – helps the mentee to work out practical ways of dealing with issues in their work or personal life. For example, managing time or dealing with difficult situations.

4. Strategic – takes the broader perspective by helping the mentee to put problems, opportunities and ambitions into context and to envision what they want to achieve through their relationship and through their own endeavours.

5. Self-insight – enables the mentee to understand their own drives, ambitions, fears and thinking patterns.

6. Behavioural change – allows the mentee to meld insight, strategy and tactics into a coherent programme or personal adaption

7. Integrative – helps the mentee develop a clearer sense of who they are, what they contribute, how they fit in and to resolve inner conflict.

Mentoring relationships are most successful when there is trust, focus, empathy and empowerment. It can be a rewarding process for both the mentor and mentee in that it helps both parties to grow, develop skills and achieve goals.

For further information on mentoring, please contact Ed Hussey, HR Services Director at Menzies Chartered Accountants on 01784 497100 or email HRConsulting@menzies.co.uk.

Read the Menzies report.

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