Mentors play many roles: advocate, teacher, friend, coach, cheerleader, counselor....and the list goes on. If you are considering stepping into the role of mentor, consider the different ways that you can assist your mentoree. Don't be afraid of these roles. If you care and truly take an interest in your mentoree, you have the skills it takes.
Business mentors counsel their mentoree in the following ways:
• Listen clearly to what the mentoree says. This means listening to the words spoken, being attentive to body language and considering the context within which the conversation occurs. It means listening with the ears, eyes and the heart to what is said and left unsaid.
• Probe what the mentoree has said to make certain that the issue presented is the real issue. Sometimes mentorees present an issue but upon further discussion, an underlying issue emerges that is the real cause of the mentoree’s concern. To be most helpful, mentors need to know the “real” issues. Asking: Why? What? How? Can you elaborate?, etc., is an
effective way to ensure understanding.
• Clarify what the mentoree is saying. Although a mentor may hear the words spoken, that does not guarantee understanding. Using statements like, “What I heard you say was.... is that correct? Let me repeat what I heard you say to see if I clearly understood. .I’m not sure what you mean by..... Can you say more about that?” all invite the other person to clarify further to avoid misunderstanding. This process also assists the mentoree in communicating and understanding his/her own issues.
• Advise the mentoree about the issue before him/her. This means the mentor plays an active role in strategizing and collaborating with the mentoree on a course of action.
• Confront the mentoree whenever s/he is conducting her/himself in ways that are unproductive or detrimental to her/his growth. Confronting the mentoree does not mean acting like a parent but, rather, presenting facts or information that will demonstrate to the mentoree that certain assumptions, ideas or actions are erroneous and need to be changed.
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