Mentors Are Not Google™
At a recent workshop to prepare mentors, we were discussing the role and impact of mentors when a participant spontaneously commented “Ah-ha! Mentors are not Google™!”
How correct he is – mentors are not expected to be the font of knowledge, nor the source of answers, nor providers of advice. An effective mentor takes off their ‘management hat’ and provides a safe ground to go exploring. They are the sounding board who provides perspective and engages their mentee in a process of discovery such that their mentee arrives at insight and improves the overall caliber of the decisions they make.
At all levels, mentees are in a learning mode. To be effective learners, they bring their experiences forward to explore. Mentors then work to uncover the context within which the experience took place. This will include questioning to gather information on what happened, who was impacted, what considerations were taken, identifying the underlying issues, exploring the various stakeholder needs and concerns, ‘what if’ scenario planning, examining the risks and clarifying options for next-steps. The complexity of the issues and experiences will vary considerably with the life experience of both parties, yet the process remains the same.
Mentors who are provided with a means to build their mentoring capabilities have an edge that impacts the quality of their relationship and the outcomes – one that improves the overall caliber of decision-making – their own and their mentee’s. Then, mentees experience their own “Ah-ha!”.