The Center for Creative Leadership on MentoringIn the August issue of its Leading Effectively newsletter, the Center for Creative Leadership summarizes in a straightforward and practical way the "7 Jobs of a Mentor". According to Wayne Hart, a senior program associate at CCL, these seven jobs (somewhat edited) are:
Developing and managing the mentoring relationship Assess your readiness to act as a mentor and your interest in doing so. Assuming you decide mentoring is for you, link up with a mentee and get to know the person more deeply, including his/her career and personal goals. On an ongoing basis, you need to work on building trust, setting goals, and keeping the mentoring relationship productive and congenial.
Sponsoring As needed, you open doors and advocate for your mentee to enable him/her "to develop new skills and gain meaningful visibility." Typical ways of sponsoring involve "seeking new opportunities for your mentee and connecting him or her with people in your network."
Guiding and counseling To the degree it is helpful, you can be a confidant and sounding board for your mentee. "You may help your mentee explore and understand emotional reactions or personal conflict or explore ways to deal with problems." You should be ready to tactfully "warn your mentee about behavior that is a poor fit with organizational culture" or that is apt to elicit unwanted responses from others.
Protecting Keep an eye out for potential threats to your mentee (e.g., problematic rumors) so that he/she can forestall them or prepare appropriate responses before problems have a chance to mushroom. "Protecting may also involve cutting red tape or helping your mentee avoid assignments that aren't a good fit."
Teaching You transfer knowledge, share experiences, and use discovery techniques to help your mentee learn.
Modeling Your mentee will learn from watching how you handle "ethics, values and standards; styles, beliefs and attitudes; methods and procedures." Keep in mind that your mentee will undoubtedly make adaptations that fit his/her position and personality.
Motivating and inspiring You need to support and encourage your mentee, encouraging him/her to take on challenges, to learn, and to develop confidence. "When you help your mentees link their own goals, values and emotions to the larger organizational agenda, they become more engaged in their work and in their own development."
As you would expect, the CCL article makes a point of also listing the mentee's responsibilities. The most important of these are to be:
- Honest and open.
- Receptive to feedback and the mentor's insights.
- Proactive about seeking information and feedback from the mentor and others.
- Committed to following through, i.e., to pursuing goals, investing time in learning, and taking steps toward needed change.
- Willing to give feedback to the mentor. "The mentee needs to be able to let the mentor know what is or isn't working well in the relationship. If there is a good feedback loop between both parties, the relationship will be more flexible, course corrections can be made, and the relationship will deepen."