Effective mentoring skills – Many people ask us on how to effectively develop their mentoring skills.
In addition… we also get many mails from mentees… mentoring program managers and even some mentors. The common question they ask us is… what they should do to have a successful mentoring relationship. They also ask us ways and means… on how to improve their mentoring program.
So, this post focuses on those five effective mentoring skills.
Remember that these five mentoring skills cannot be developed overnight, while some of them are a continuous learning process. In other words, these are skills you learn throughout your lives. Unlike a lesson, it is not something you learn for which you are given a grade in line with your level of expertise. Having said that, we wish to reiterate that successful mentors are the ones who apply these skills effectively.
Effective Mentoring Skills… An open mind.
By far, one of the most important skills you need to have is the ability to keep an open mind. It is not surprising that when we come to a mentoring program, we have our own thoughts and agendas. Perhaps, in some cases even our own value system, and in some cases our own prejudices. Now, while this is normal and there is nothing wrong with this, as we are just being human. However, the purpose of the mentor is to transform, to bring about a change. For this to happen, we need to have an open mind. In other words, open our minds to new ways of thinking and performing. This could be difficult and will be so throughout the mentoring relationship. The objective is to be aware of how your thinking process will affect the mentor-mentee relationship.
Effective Mentoring Skills… To actively listen.
Another effective skill is listening, which can be split into active and passive listening skills. As implied, you are fully engaged, when you actively listen, and you focus on what the other person is saying. You reinforce what the opposite person is saying by offering nonverbal indications such as nodding of head, and maintaining an eye contact. The active listeners sits up straight, is alert, and asks questions, which shows their genuine interest in the conversation. It is extremely important that both mentors and mentees effectively listen to each another.
Effective Mentoring Skills… Tough questioning.
While this may upset the rhythm, it is important that questions be asked. There are times when an issue needs to be dug deeper, and sometimes, the most important issue appears to be the most difficult ones to ask. However, ask them anyway, but do with tact and diplomacy.
Effective Mentoring Skills… Being totally honest.
Like asking tough questions, one has to be totally honest in any discussion. If you have asked a difficult question, be prepared to be brutally honest, in answering a difficult question. It may not be easy to be honest, but it is important that it is honest to an extent and within safe limits.
Effective Mentoring Skills… Developing self-awareness.
Once you get an honest answer to a difficult question, be prepared to self-reflect on the whole issue. Successful mentors and mentees will take time and reflect on what has been discussed. This is extremely important while discussing difficult issues. If you can take time to self-reflect, you can avoid knee-jerk reactions. This allows the people to grow, which is what mentoring is all about.
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Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions on how to effectively developing your mentoring skills.