Mentoring matters: 10 tips to make the most of your mentoring

Mentoring matters: 10 tips to make the most of your mentoring

Mentoring is probably the most powerful developmental process people can experience. And when it works, it develops two for the price of one. In mentoring, the relationship between mentor and mentee is all-important. 

Mentors are a confidential, independent sounding board to provide support and guidance, allowing you to put issues into perspective and consider various possibilities.

In this article WOB My Mentor Director Ruth Jones and WOB Director and experienced mentor, Cheryl Hayman, share their top 10 tips on how to make the relationship work and why mentoring matters and how mentees and mentors can get the most out of it.

  1. Be open. “It is important that there is as much openness and honesty as possible between the mentor and mentee and that the confidentiality of the mentoring relationship is respected,” says Ruth. 

  2. Relationship goals. “Mentors must keep an open mind, a flexible attitude, and have a willingness to develop a relationship with their mentees,”says Cheryl.

  3. Think long-term. Is your career progressing according to plan?  Do you need help and support?  They both agree, spending time with a mentor gives you the chance to think about your longer term objectives and focus on how to move your career forward.  

  4. See the possibilities. As Ruth explains, what is common to all cases of mentoring is that the mentee comes to view things in a new way. “The mentor promotes change in the mentee, helping that person towards a new vision of what is possible”.

  5. Look after the relationship. “Mentoring is not formally connected with structures of extrinsic reward - or penalty! Mentors must look after the relationship, and discuss its progress with their mentee,” advises Ruth.

  6. Keep it candid. The mentee should be candid with the mentor in a way that would be unlikely in the context of their organizational appraisal, says Ruth. “The mentor remains non-judgmental, and does not impose their views on their mentee”.

  7. ‘Own the solution’. Cheryl says plans are followed through when the mentee owns the solution. “Mentors should give advice and provide guidance and direction appropriately, based on their experiences and expertise.”

  8. Set targets. You will enhance commitment to change by clear agreements and target setting. “Mentoring partnerships, in which the pair set tough but doable goals and a pathway to master challenges, enables mentees to learn a tremendous amount and build self-confidence,” says Cheryl. She said mentoring must happen in such a context with aims and purposes.”It is about possibilities and capabilities, not just problems and difficulties, and it focuses on learning and development.”

  9. Watch and ask: Good mentors allow themselves to be observed, and effective mentees make a point of watching and questioning them.

  10. Be positive. Cheryl says effective mentors encourage their mentees through positive words. “Effective mentees do the same with their mentor, which reinforces and inspires their mentors to invest more.”

Women on Boards knows that there is no one-size-fits all approach to mentoring.  Each partnership is carefully matched and the approach tailored to the specific needs of the mentee.

Listen to our podcast where Claire Braund talks to a recent mentor and mentee about their experience.

Find out more about the Women on Boards mentoring program.