Tips for Mentees – Beware of the Awe factor

Tips for Mentees Series

Our Tips for Mentees series starts with a look at a hidden barrier called The Awe Factor. The best mentoring is when the mentee takes responsibility for its success. However, the Awe Factor can prevent this.

Its roots lie in the fact that mentors are frequently senior to their mentee. Consequently, when mentees find themselves in the grip of the Awe Factor, they struggle to feel confident in the mentoring relationship. As a result, levels of trust and openness are limited.

Tips for Mentees

The research suggests that some mentees:

  • Feel reluctant to take ownership and lead the meetings
  • Have trouble viewing their mentors as partners
  • Are afraid to admit mistakes to their mentors, in case it influences perceptions
  • Are reluctant to challenge or disagree with viewpoints

The issue can be exacerbated by mentors. Natural leaders, they will find it easy and instinctive to get into the driving seat. This, of course, compounds the problem. As a result, it takes longer than necessary for mentees to take ownership for the relationship. It also reduces the amount of learning that takes place.

There is a further problem when this situation occurs. Studies suggests that mentors, make negative judgements about their mentees performance and potential.

Tips for mentees if they are falling victim to the Awe Factor

  • Feel pleased that you have recognised it!
  • Make time to find out more about your mentor and discover their human side
  • Take the lead early and set the agenda for discussions
  • Discuss the issue with someone; your boss, scheme manager or a colleague
  • Take a deep breath and discuss it with your mentor

Tips for organisations to minimise the impact of the Awe Factor

  • Mentor training should highlight the risk and help mentors to recognise it
  • Mentee training should discuss it, reassure mentees and suggest ways to avoid it
  • Set clear expectations about roles and responsibilities and set up effective contracting
  • Ensure a good matching process is in place
  • Organise a social or informal event for them to meet each other before mentoring starts

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