Mentoring conversations should be rich, challenging and rewarding for both parties. They result in new insights, broader perspectives and food for thought.
Yet that’s not always the case. Sometimes they can be mediocre and lack impact. As a result, the mentoring relationship loses momentum and the negative spiral starts.
So, what prevents mentoring conversations from delivering the potential development?
Busy, stretched mentors with insufficient time to think about the meetings in advance
Mentees, struggling with The Awe Factor , don’t take ownership for the success of mentoring conversations
Lack of skills and/or confidence in initiating powerful mentoring conversations
Mentoring that has fallen into a cosy, comfortable relationship
Poor questions that don’t develop into rich discussions
Mentors get stuck – running out of ideas for mentoring meetings
There are so many ways that learning can be created for mentees through mentoring conversations. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Debriefing recent experiences that the mentee has had, using questions to encourage reflection, insights and actions for the future
- Providing feedback on what is heard and observed by the mentor and exploring the causes and effects of behaviour
- Discussing dreams and aspirations and turning them into tangible goals and actions
- Engaging in conversations about key events – current or planned in the organisation and reviewing, critiquing and improving them
- Mentors sharing their own stories that create learning
We sometimes hear mentors talking about getting stuck or running out of creative ideas for good conversations. Too often, after initial training and skill building, mentors are left to it. Bearing in mind that mentoring relationships are often quite long term, it’s not surprising that they can get stale. Providing ongoing learning and support is important to keep mentoring fresh and continue to build both skills and confidence in mentors.
Our client, St John Ambulance, having invested in training internal coaches, is now offering short 3-hour, workshops. These are a mix of group supervision and further skill building. Where budgets are tight, think creatively about how you can keep mentors fresh, stimulated and supported. It will pay dividends in the quality of the mentoring conversations and relationships.
We’d love to hear of other ideas that support mentoring conversations so let us know what’s worked for your organisation.
If you’d like to talk to us about how you can keep momentum for mentors, do get in touch