"Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be."
- Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring
Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping young people to progress and realise their potential. It can also focus on areas that need to be modified changed and improved. It is an area which is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realised. It is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.
A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction,provide support, offer alternatives and help them to develop solutions enabling them to make informed choices and realistic goals. Mentors rely upon having had similar experiences to gain an empathy with the mentee and an understanding of their issues. Mentoring provides the mentee with an opportunity to think about career options and progress.
A mentor should help the mentee to believe in themselves and boost their confidence. A mentor should ask questions and challenge, while providing guidance and encouragement. Mentoring allows the mentee to explore new ideas in confidence. It is a chance to look more closely at yourself, your issues, opportunities and what you want in life. Mentoring is about becoming more self-aware, taking responsibility for your life and directing your life in the direction you decide, rather than leaving it to chance.
If you have successfully reached a new understanding the next stage is to agree what actions should be taken. Again this is not about you as the mentor telling the mentee what to do. You need to guide the mentee towards identifying actions they can implement. If actions are agreed you must ensure these are recorded and then monitored through regular review and feedback.
Having worked through the first stage, the likelihood is that some ‘New Understanding’ will be reached about the issue being discussed. This may be a minor change in viewpoint or a major breakthrough in a person’s thinking processes. Regardless of the size or significance of the breakthrough, your role as the mentor is to reflect back to the mentee what they have learned. You should then guide the mentee through thinking about the implications of potential conclusions.
During the first stage of the process the role as a mentor is to provide Information, when requested by the mentee, and to ask probing questions to help the mentee make judgements. It is during this stage that you need to use your ‘active listening’ skills. Using good questioning techniques and then recapping, paraphrasing and summarising to try and get to the centre issue being raised. Remember you are there to guide the mentee, not to provide a solution or impose your point of view.