Someone asks you to be their mentor. You’re not sure you can commit. It’s a lot of time, and you’re already overloaded. Plus you’ve mentored in several formal mentoring programs and it felt forced and awkward.
Formal programs can stifle a good relationship. Even organic relationships can lose steam with too much structure. Worse, many connections never start for fear of commitment.
“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” -Phil Collins
Instead of saying, “yes! I’ll be your mentor,” or “I’m sorry, I can’t at this time,” how about a simple, “I’d be happy to talk with you.” Keep it natural. Find time to connect. Figure out why they thought of you. Help where you can. Connect them to others who can support. If it makes sense to set a follow-up, do that. Don’t get stuck mentoring past helpfulness. Growing leaders can benefit from a series of mentoring moments with a broad spectrum of leaders. You will learn from these moments too.
Tips for a Making Great Mentoring Moments
- Ask lots of questions
- Work on a specific skill
- Pull out the answers
- Provide information and encouragement
- Help them ask “why?”
- Dust them off when they fail
- Encourage self-reflection
- Serve as sounding board
- Remove obstacles
- Uncover resources
- Create additional connections
10 Mentoring Moment Sentence Starters
- Have you thought about.
- What do you think would happen if.
- Why do you think that happened?
- Who should you involve?
- When is the best time to do this?
- Why are you pursuing that approach?
- Which are the most important goals?
- What will happen next?
- Why does that make you so angry?
- Who can help?