I have written in previous blogs about the fantastic benefits that business owners can reap from working closely with a business mentor or business coach but what makes a really effective, and therefore successful relationship between the owner and the mentor?
Like any relationship, there are ‘rules’ that we apply either consciously or subconsciously when dealing with other people. Some of my clients have been with me for over ten years now, during which time we have developed and nurtured the strong relationships we have built. So what is the ‘bedrock’ of these relationships; what makes them work and ensures longevity?
Here are my Top 10 Tips to starting and maintaining a strong mentor/mentee relationship:
- The First ‘Date’
Meet with the mentor initially for a chat to establish if you feel they are right for you in terms of experience and if you feel comfortable with him/her and feel you could work with them.
- Agree Objectives/Goals
Be clear about what you want to achieve from the mentoring; whether that be your own development, financial improvement or other areas in your business. Know how it needs to benefit you and your business. The mentor needs to ‘stress test’ this to ensure it is achievable; a goal is good; a dream - not always!
This is a given. The mentor must keep everything discussed confidential unless the mentee asks specifically for something to be shared. We sign a confidentiality and exclusivity agreement with all our clients.
- Agree How Often and How Long
Mentoring requires a commitment of time, so decide how often and for how long you will meet. On average, our sessions will last two hours on a monthly basis; some are shorter, and some can be much longer depending on the level of support required. Above all else, respect each other’s time – no last-minute cancellations unless it really is unavoidable.
- The Venue
This may seem obvious, but I have been asked to mentor people in an open office at their desk with dozens of ears listening. It doesn’t work! Ideally, a quiet area where both mentor and mentee can speak and hear without numerous interruptions. I once suggested to a client that we meet in Richmond Park on a lovely sunny day where we had a four-hour mentoring session whilst walking through the park. That was actually a great session, the client was really relaxed, and he often refers back to that day.
- Accepting the Need for Change
There is no point in being mentored if you are not prepared to change and that may mean sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone. Some of my shortest client engagements have been with people who wanted better results but were not prepared to mis things ups and do things differently. Change is always needed; there is no easy magic wand.
- Candid & Honest
This is one of the key areas that I think is vital. There must be good communication between both parties and that includes being candid and honest with each other, even if it makes one party feel uncomfortable.
- Mentoring Style
There are times when a mentee needs to be coached i.e. asked questions to help them down a route to finding their own solutions. Equally, however, there are times when the mentee needs to be told how and what to do. Being ‘coached’ all the time can be frustrating; ‘Just tell me what to do!’ I always try to bring some humour into business mentoring sessions; to me it’s the oil in the cogs that can help a heavy session along.
- Agree Actions
At the end of each session summarise the actions for each party, including timescales.
- Follow Up
The mentor should follow up on any actions from the previous session to check progress and discuss any hurdles or challenges that the mentee faced. Although normally these would be picked up on the phone in-between sessions.
Hopefully these tips will help you to start and develop an effective mentoring relationship and if you feel that the time is now right for you to get a mentor to help, support and guide you on your journey, then please get in touch via the link below and we’ll arrange for you to have a complimentary mentoring session with one of our experienced Business Mentors.
Find a local mentor
UK Business Mentoring Group
Tel: 0845 680 3634