Nancy Hardaway photo
This issue focuses on the value of
mentoring, with best practices, mentor and mentor tips, pitfalls to avoid, finding a mentor, and how mentoring differs from coaching.  
SkillPlan's Six Steps to Mentoring - What Makes a Good Mentor?
Tradespeople Share What Makes a Good Mentor
Whether you're mentoring a young colleague, or you're looking for a mentor, this one minute video offers succinct advice applicable to good mentoring of any kind.  
Mentoring  - Buzz, Benefit, or Blunder???
Buzz or Benefit?

There's a mentoring buzz in my circles so I thought I'd take a closer look. One leader has been asked to informally mentor a new manager. The leaders of a membership organization are creating a formal mentoring program. A large healthcare system found their peer mentoring program failed without clear expectations and the support of training. I've been mentored and served as a mentor many times.  And a few weeks ago I attended a fun and energizing "speed mentoring" event.


Does it work?  Whether formal or informal, mentoring can be an effective career development mechanism. It can provide the bigger picture perspective of "you in your career" rather than just you in your job.  Fast Company magazine calls it the single most valuable ingredient in a successful career for both men and women.  Many companies provide it, and smart new business owners and entrepreneurs look for mentors in various areas of technical expertise.


Why mentor?  Besides the altruistic benefits of "paying it forward" by helping someone, mentoring can benefit your own professional path.  You can learn about other industries, and make new contacts.  Explore a different generation's perspective on the world.  Re-energize your own perspective.  Even enhance your clarity about what you do and why, by having to articulate it to another.  


Why be mentored?  Mentoring can uniquely support onboarding for new employees, develop young leaders, provide access to networks for career growth, enhance knowledge of company or industry culture.  It's crucial for new business owners and entrepreneurs to have a mentor - perhaps multiple mentors in various areas of technical expertise!  There's even reverse mentoring, where the junior person provides mentoring to more senior employees (think gaming principles, social media, or technology).


How does a mentor differ from a manager or coach? Managers may use mentoring skills in their supervisory roles, but it is in service to company priorities, and managers have a performance evaluation responsibility. Mentoring and coaching typically don't have evaluation components and take place for different purposes.  Below you'll find a guide to what defines mentoring and coaching:


Great Mentoring Works Below you'll find the elements of successful mentoring that I've culled from my own experience. 


STRUCTURE: The key is some structure and clarity up front. Both mentor and mentee need to understand the purpose of the relationship. That leader I mentioned above found that the mentee didn't know why they were meeting which made for mutual discomfort.


MATCHING: Research shows that success is most likely when mentor and mentee pairs have some choice of whom they partner with. Also necessary is a way to gracefully exit if it doesn't work. If within a formal structure (a company, an alumni program, etc.) a program manager can facilitate the matching and "uncoupling" process. Pairs shouldn't have a line of direct supervision  because the benefit of mentoring is the safety of the professional relationship, without the evaluation process required of a manager.


CHAMPIONS: For mentoring programs you need leader champions, to share why mentoring is valuable for both mentors and mentees and what's unique about it. Why else would busy people want one more thing to do?


SCHEDULES: Mentoring programs can run from meeting weekly over 3 months, to a year or more meeting once a month. Longer programs tend to demonstrate more tangible results. Typically, mentoring is one-to-one but there are also programs with groups (e.g., 10 mentees paired with 2 mentors meeting once a month). A fixed time to meet helps sustain momentum. It's easy to get off track with missed meetings or constant re-scheduling.   An end date, knowing when and how you're going to complete the process, is important as well.


GOALS: Often the mentoring program has an overarching goal. That healthcare organization I mentioned had a goal of improving patient outcomes and satisfaction, and paired doctors with high ratings with those who had lower levels, and paired highly rated nurse managers with newer nurse managers. (Potentially difficult conversations.  No wonder they needed to train them on how to mentor.) It is also important for the individual mentee to set specific goals and come to meetings with topics or issues to discuss.


EVALUATION: Measurement is a key part of any formal mentoring program. It can vary from numbers of meetings, satisfaction ratings by mentor and mentees, evaluations by bosses and peers, or percent of specific goals accomplished.

  • Mismatch 
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Attempted cloning (mentor tries to make mentee take their same career path)
  • No clear timeframe
  • Premature check-out (mentee or mentor loses interest)


Mentor Lessons from the Movies
D155 Mentor Training
If you have time, enjoy mentoring lessons from the movies, with Yoda, the Karate Kid, Seinfeld, the Jamaican Bobsled Team and more.

In This Issue
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The Awareness Paradigm
Learn skills of leading through a captivating story. You'll find one character demonstrating skills useful in both mentoring and coaching.
Available in paperback or e-book on  Amazon, on the Listening 2 Leaders website, or at Books by the Sea, in Osterville, MA  
Recent Blogposts:
Onboarding New Employees

Advice for Mentors
  1. Be clear about the time you have available
  2. Return calls and emails
  3. Be willing to learn from your mentee
  4. Observe confidentiality and appropriate boundaries
  5. Create a safe and positive atmosphere for meetings
  6. Ask the mentee to come prepared with things to talk about
  7. Introduce mentees to other colleagues as appropriate
  8. Help the mentee solve their own problems
  9. Provide advice when asked
  10. Don't expect the mentee to "do it your way"
  11. Challenge the mentee to stretch
  12. Prepare mentee for "leaving the nest" of mentoring
Advice for Mentees
  • Be open to learning
  • Expect career learning, not job search help or other favors
  • Observe appropriate boundaries
  • Respect the mentor's schedule and time
  • Set clear goals for the mentoring process
  • Develop an action plan
  • Come to meetings prepared with topics to discuss
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Request feedback
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Return calls and emails promptly
  • Thank your mentor
Upcoming Presentations 
Awareness as a Meta-Skill of Leadership

AAGT Biennial International Conference

Monterey, California
Friday, Sept. 5, 2014
Looking to Find a Mentor?  Read on:
If you want to find a mentor look to Chambers of Commerce, alumni associations, trade organizations, business networking groups, or try the tips in these articles: 

Characteristics of Coaching vs. Mentoring







 Improve job performance or skills

 Support and guide personal career growth


 Coach directs learning toward client coals

 Mentee is in charge of learning and direction


 Client may hire a coach or may be required to be coached

 Both mentor and mentee are volunteers


Work challenges and learning opportunities

 Longer term personal & career development


 Focus on developing skills, building capacity, providing feedback

Focus on guiding, being a role model, providing suggestions and connections


Formal schedule of meetings toward goals

May be formal or informal


Short or long term as needed

 Longer term


Listening 2 Leaders  
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  47 River Street, Wellesley, MA  02481

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