Why is mentoring the best way to raise leaders in your company?

This is happening more and more frequently, which is quite encouraging. A company with problems (eminently, with communication problems) decides to adopt a change of perspective and start doing things differently and decides to implement a mentoring project. The company’s directives hire an expert in this area and all of them design the program with the objective that the directors become the mentors of the top executives of the organization, who could be the leaders of it in the future, to develop their leadership skills. When these types of adjustments are made, the benefits are so many that they are difficult to classify. However, the most important of these is the new form of leadership that is built and executed for the good of the entire company.

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When leadership is built from mentoring processes, the leader that results is not a simple advisor to his or her subordinates, and, of course, he/she is not someone who simply delegates and gives orders so that everything is done to his or her convenience. A leader built a from mentoring processes, first of all, uses coaching skills and techniques; forms and transmits knowledge, and relates and sponsors the mentees. This type of leader considers three basic dimensions that must be developed in any professional role: Emotional, intellectual and social.

Obviously, for this to be achieved, it is necessary to have certain knowledge. Otherwise, the mentoring program could fail. Ideally, a company may start with a small group of mentors and mentees. A group of ten people, for example, is easy to follow and monitor, and from there it is possible to quantitatively extend the new versions of the mentoring programs.

In the same way, it is vital to choose the pairs of mentors and mentees very well. This selection should be made jointly with experts in the human resources area, or with external organizational psychologists. The idea is not simply to organize couples that get along but to complement each other in their knowledge and experience, and from which a true learning can emerge.

Before executing anything, it is very important to plan the sessions, and, above all, to elaborate a very detailed internal guide that includes a practical methodology that is easy to put into practice.

Read also: Why does your company need a mentoring program?, by Suzzanne Uhland

These types of programs are, of course, tremendously beneficial for mentees. What most often stands out in them is the increase of confidence towards the executives of the organizations, as well as a greater assumption of challenges when it comes to their roles. However, the most surprising factor about mentoring processes is the benefits in terms of increasing and improving skills to train other people and developing their potential.

There is always an increase in the level of personal satisfaction of mentors, which is a valuable resource in an organization. In fact, mentoring is one of the practices that most increase the level of commitment and satisfaction of the people who are part of a company.

The mentors consider their participation in the program very satisfactory, not only for the improvement of their competences but also for having contributed to achieving a difference, a change, and improvement in the lives of their mentees. In the same way, this happens because both mentors and mentees expand their own networks of professional contacts, as well as the acquisition of new technical knowledge (both for mentors, who are updated by the new knowledge that mentees bring from the academies, and for mentees, who are nourished by the experience of the mentors.)

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Mentoring has an exponential effect because it not only generates benefits for mentees and mentors but also for the entire company. It can be noticed in all programs, both for small (and family) companies and for large corporations. The main improvements that are obtained thanks to these programs for organizations are four.

The first is that organizational training is improved, especially when company executives become mentors, based on the example of those who participated in the mentoring program, and have taken as mentees other people within the organization to mentor them. The second is that individual performance is improved. This is so because the mentees generally show greater commitment, loyalty, and productivity. The third thing is that, as mentioned above, there is an increase in the level of trust: Mentoring programs increase trust between the members of the Board and senior executives or senior leaders of the company, as both parties learn to communicate in a closer and sincere way. Finally, governance is significantly improved throughout the organization. The relationships between the different interest groups at the internal level of the company improve, there is a clearer and more direct knowledge of the talent, and the leadership capacities of the people who work in the organization. This facilitates the identification of future leaders that the organization may need.

Recommended: Predicting the future of mentoring programs

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The Most Common Mentoring Mistakes Made By Companies And Employees

Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about many times of the clear advantages of having a mentoring program set up for your employees, as well as joining one as a mentor or mentee in your organization. Companies benefit greatly when they pair up their employees and thus bring new member up to speed on the company’s practices, procedures, and goals while at the same time investing in the development of new members of the organization. If you are a senior employee, then mentoring opens up a door of opportunities in a whole different way, by giving you the chance to learn skills that perhaps were not relevant during your own training and that are common with today’s younger generations, or also by helping you enhance your own leadership skills in a real-world environment.

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It is clear that the advantages are many and for everyone involved, but then again we have to talk about the most common mistakes organizations and individuals make when putting together, maintaining and participating in a mentoring program. Mistakes and wrong dealings when it comes to mentoring can develop to become difficulty seeing the advantages of the relationship, benefiting from being part of a mentorship and even result in the failure of the program itself.

These are some of the most common mistakes made when it comes to mentorships.

Sometimes even great mentors fail because they forget to do things such as reframing challenges in a way that can be easily understood and properly assessed by the mentee. Our frame of mind is something crucial when it comes to finding ways to deal with obstacles as things may seem impossible to solve and predicaments may feel impossible from where we are standing. Reframing problems allow us to remove ourselves from the predicament and literally find a new approach. A great mentor knows this and sometimes that is what sets them apart from the rest. Forgetting about reframing or simply tackling issues without changing our frame of mind is a big mistake in mentoring and one that even experienced participants easily fall into.

Another big mistake in mentoring happens when mentors simply give out the answers to mentees. Finding solutions is about coaching individuals and helping them reach conclusions on their own for the most part. A good mentor is not a person who solves issues for you; instead, they guide you and help you find the answers on your own while helping you stay on track while a goal has been set and a plan has been hatched.

The problem with giving a mentee the solution to their issue is that we are literally taking away from them the opportunity to grow and learn from experiences. The job of a mentor is to facilitate such learning opportunities and not to take them away from their mentees.

A great way to mentor is to ask questions. Instead of telling them what to do, have them answer questions about why they haven’t done something yet, thus making them really think about what is it that is stopping them from taking risks or to analyze aspects that they may have not considered before.

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As a mentee, one of the biggest and most common mistakes is choosing a mentor that is too similar to you. It is very comfortable to talk to someone with your same background and way of thinking, so developing that kind of relationship will be naturally easy, however, it isn’t recommended to avoid contrast when it comes to mentoring. You will learn the most from partners that are of a different gender and background because you will be exposed to a whole new spectrum of experiences that can enrich your own. Think also outside of your chain of command and go for someone who is not your direct supervisor so you can avoid conflicts of interest. Be bold and brave and get out of your comfort zone.

Another mistake mentees make has to do with asking for advice that is too general. Always be specific about your questions, about the issues that worry you and about the advice you want to receive. It is normal to not be clear about your needs at first, but finding out is part of the experience.

As an organization, one of the most common mistakes people make is wrongly pairing participants. Sometimes this is done at random and that spells out a recipe for disaster. Remember that not all senior members are willing to participate in mentoring, so this shouldn’t be something that is imposed on people. The trick is to find people who are excited about the opportunity to teach others and partner them with employees who have interest in advancing their professional life and goals that can benefit from receiving help from others with more experience.

The last and probably the most important mistake companies make is that they forget to follow up and supervise their own mentoring program. That could mean the end of the program itself, easily.

 

The Best Tips For Making Your Mentoring Relationships Successful.

 

Mentoring relationships are rich alliances in which both parties bring their best to the table in a joint effort to come out a better version of themselves at the end, not only professionally but also personally as well. As with most relationships, this is hard work and it requires practice and dedication in order to make the best out of the experience. Both parties must be willing to conform to the rules, to be honest, and forthcoming and to give their best effort when it comes to receiving advice and also giving it when needed. It is more common to see senior members of the organization paired up with much younger executives who want to take advantage of their experience so they know how to navigate the waters of career advancement. It isn’t different when it also works the other way around, when senior members utilize the skills of their mentees so they can learn about aspects of the business that they are not familiar with; things like technology, new trends and the evolution of the business itself towards places that are different from what they are used to.

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Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog we want to talk about some advice that can be useful for both mentors and mentees by helping them truly appreciate their mentoring relationship and learn from the mistakes and lessons that others have learned before from them. Remember that even if you look at mentoring as a bond in which someone takes the time and effort to guide a junior employee, that doesn’t mean the mentee is out of the hook when it comes to being responsible for giving back in this symbiotic partnership.

For mentors

Be an active listener. Listening is more than just sitting there and being quiet while the other person goes on about their life, their observations and postulate questions. Active listeners sit up straight, engage the speaker and annotate the information they receive so they can come back and review it. Using non-verbal language is extremely important in this engagement exercise and it works two ways: not only it allows you to show your mentee that you are interested in what they are telling you, but also it helps you process information in a way that gives you the best chance to answer back with insights that are truly useful and on point when it comes to advising for the best course of action.

Part of being an active listener also has to do with actually listening and trying not to talk so much. Some mentors believe that their job is to tell stories and illuminate their mentee with their particular clever insight on every situation. While this isn’t entirely wrong, you must know how to balance your speaking with your listening, as you need to make the right assessment as to how you can help, and how you cannot. Encourage independence and understand that your way of doing things may simply be one of the many ways out there to get things done. Personal anecdotes are great, but they should now take up all of the time you have together. Try listening and allowing your partner to talk so you can get a better read of what is going on and how you can help out.

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For mentees

Understand that most of the work has to come for you. You have to know that you are primarily being benefitted in these relationships and while you do bring a lot to the table if you do your part, there is a component of sacrifice and compromise that you must always keep in mind. Mentors are busy people who take time out of their days to share their knowledge and experience with you, so be sure to take responsibility for making the relationship work.

Keep in mind that your goals have to be clear and it is your job to define such goals. You must know what you want in order to achieve it, especially when you are consulting with someone as to which is the best way to do so.

Be curious and inquisitive at all times. You cannot be helped if you are not interested in what you are doing and a mentor will be motivated when they see you trying to improve. Always write down questions before sessions so you can talk about things that are important and you are not there just wasting the time of all parties involved. Make yourself available for your mentor and always make sure that you meet deadlines and keep appointments. Be honest and open about your doubts and trust the person you chose as a guide since they are a reflection of your projection for a better professional career and the advancement you want to reach as an individual. Always have a positive attitude and understand that being better requires a lot of hard work.

How to have a positive impact as a mentor

The job of a mentor is quite serious. It is meant to have an impact on somebody else’s life. Therefore, it better be a good impact.

If we took a minute to think about the best mentor we have ever had, we would remember some important pieces of advice, attitudes, situations and all sorts of events that would help us identify why our mentor had such a positive impact in our lives.

On the mentor’s side, having a positive impact on mentees can be quite challenging. Not because intentions are not nice. But, because becoming the example to follow or the advice-giver of someone who is trusting you its career, is rather difficult and represents a big responsibility.

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There are many different types of mentors. All of them may vary according to the type of business they work with, or the type of mentee they will guide. It can even be said that mentors come in every possible “shape and flavor”. They can come in the shape of a dear professor, a friend, family member, a parent, or a coach.

Regardless the type of mentor that you want to become or already are, there are some basic tips that you should keep in mind in order to have a positive impact on your mentees. Here, Suzzanne Uhland will share some of these tips.

Related: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

1 – You need to know what it means to be a mentor

If you are in the business world or are a lawyer and you are good at what you do, you will inevitably become a mentor. This is something that most people can’t escape of and it is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and legacy.

However, before you become a mentor you need to actually know what that means. It is not about improvising and acting according to your needs. It is actually about knowing your mentee and establishing a relationship with that person.

Being a good mentor requires you to develop communication skills as well as a working style. Nevertheless, if you really want to have a positive impact on your mentee, you need to gain their trust as their advisor.

Being a trusted advisor can mean several different things. All these things are summarized in making yourself available for your mentee whenever it needs advice and support. Giving your mentee support is what actually defines your role as a mentor.

Acknowledging your role as a mentor and knowing how to support your mentee in order to provide it with great advice and support, will help your mentee keep a great mindset. This will represent the greatest impact overall.

2 – Measure time

A mentor and mentee relationship should not last forever. It will need to last for as long as the mentee feels ready to face the challenges of the market. In terms of time, this cannot be defined properly.

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The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can be as short as one single meeting around a cup of coffee or as long as several years of preparation. It is important to keep in mind that when this kind of relationships extend in time and become long term, the mentor has the obligation of actually knowing its mentee.

The longer the mentoring process is, the more important it becomes for the mentor to know and understand the goals, personality, and learning style of its mentee. Long-term relationships regarding this matter are more fulfilling when both parties have an enriching attitude towards the other.

3 – Define your mentorship plan and expectations

Not all mentors are equal, and not all mentee will react in the same way to the same things. Having said that, if the mentor wants to have an amazing impact on its mentee, it should prepare a mentorship plan.

This plan must be based on the expectations that both parties share from the beginning. Expectations work as goals and clarify what both parties want and don’t want since the moment they start their relationship

Understanding these expectations will help you understand where your mentee is coming from when asking something from you, and vice versa.

4 – Work on your emotional intelligence

Being a mentor can be emotionally challenging. There might be situations in which you want to give up, react poorly, and stop your job right there. This is why emotional intelligence plays such an important role in the job of any mentor.

By becoming a mentor, you will get the chance to know they very special personality of your mentee. You will have to deal with its needs and the previous experiences that have shaped your mentees personality. Knowing all this and using this information in the best interest of yourself and the mentee will make a huge difference.

Keeping all these tips in mind will help become a good mentor and have a positive impact on your mentee.

* Featured Image courtesy of rawpixel.com at Pexels.com

Mentoring: The best Human Resources Management tool

Today, more than management of human resources, the issue under discussion is the management of people. People are actually the most important asset in companies because they are carriers of knowledge; transferable, interchangeable, and regenerative knowledge. Moreover, knowledge is the second most valuable resource on the scale of priorities, and, for this reason, CEOs around the world are looking for ways to care for and generate it more quickly. The way it is transferred and how it is shared is key to respond to the increasingly complex problems which happen so quickly.

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Well, the bridge that one of those two great asses, people and knowledge is learning. Learning is the most important tool for companies in this regard, and has its origin in interpersonal connection: Something that someone knows is connected with a new situation that another person must solve. In this way, what someone knows is connected with what others know, and so new knowledge is produced. In this sense, companies need to look for systems or tools that enhance that connection, sociability, contacts between people that lead to the creation of new ideas, new opportunities, and new businesses. That is where mentoring becomes relevant.

Mentoring is one of those new forms of learning (a knowledge management tool) that has become a necessity for companies. What is it? We could define it as a learning and development practice of people in organizations, consisting of learning from the experience of others (mentors,) who also help their mentees to develop their potential and relate within and outside the organizational environment with other people who may be relevant to their career. Mentors are people with a consolidated and well-positioned trajectory within and outside the company who share and transmit their business and organizational culture experience to a mentee, so that the development of his or her potential takes place, and, therefore the learning within the company becomes much faster and effective.

Read also: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart, by Suzzanne Uhland

Mentors act as role models, as learning guides, as transmitters of knowledge. They challenge their minds to take on new goals to increase their level of skills. They help them to reflect, and question what has always been done, how it has been done, or why it has been done in a certain way, always looking for new ways of doing things to arrive at new solutions, and, consequently, new opportunities. Mentors are connectors: They relate to their minds outside and within the organization, providing them with valuable relationships and showing them how to build a network of contacts.

Mentoring is a social process, arising from the interaction between people, from questions to active listening. Its main purpose is to generate ideas through powerful questions, questions that produce reflection, questions that draw people from their comfort zone and make them move forward looking for new ways, seeing things from another perspective. This is, in a nutshell, that someone who works day by day in a company can seek advice from others who have been in similar situations to meet their professional challenges. This type of learning is enhanced through meetings between mentors and mentees in which career objectives are established within the company, thanks to dialogue and discussion on problems and situations that occur in daily work, and plans of action are drawn to achieve objectives.

In these sessions between mentor and mentee, you learn through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, points of view, and experiences through advice. Instead of inviting experts from outside the company to train your employees, when it comes to mentoring, knowledge is provided based on the difficulties they have faced and have had to resolve within the organization. People have greater confidence in the advice of someone in the same situation, and therefore, are more receptive to them. In addition, peer conversations can provide both emotional and practical support, and favor interactive thinking, which consists in reasoning with others, developing interpersonal reasoning. It is about reflecting in common, putting oneself in the other’s place and seeing things from different perspectives and categories of thought.

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Because mentoring is essentially a social process, it has a very important cooperative base. We all know it: Cooperation generates a positive energy within the organization, which develops personal capacities beyond normal limits, and increases the performance of the entire organization. Cooperation is encouraged through dialogue, allowing doubts, questioning, and confrontation between the different members of the organization.

Designing mentoring strategies within the company enhances the capacity for internal learning and prepares companies to respond in a more agile and innovative way to the new challenges and changes of the market. If mentoring is built on a proper fostering of diversity, the organization will enable the creation of a much more extensive, diverse, and effective learning base, which will lead to greater competitiveness. A company cannot advance solely on the basis of external and technical training: It must also learn to internalize knowledge, skills, and attitudes through shared learning processes such as mentoring.

Recommended: Mentoring and Human Resources: A Perfect Match

* Featured Image courtesy of Jeso Carneiro at Flickr.com

How to make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor?

It is well-known that mentors are important characters that help with the professional development of individuals. This is not an exception for law students who plan to one day become successful attorneys or start their own law firms. Mentors help to break that gap between experienced attorneys and the ones who just graduated from law school.

Mentorship needs to be a both-sided relationship between two individuals: the mentor and the mentee. Mentorship should be enriching and mutually beneficial. However, it is important to consider that all mentors needed to be mentees and that is why it is so important to find the right mentor. Depending on the type of mentor you have will be the type of mentor you will become.

In order for mentees to become great mentors, they need to receive great knowledge from their mentorship experience. Wisdom and useful advice are also important to set some standards and references for the future law mentor.

In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will review what is to be a law mentor and how do mentees take that step to become successful law mentors.

Related: How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

Being a mentee

As a mentee, your responsibility is to choose a mentor that can actually suit your needs. This is very important in law since you are only allowed to specialize in certain fields under that approval of a mentor. A mentor is not necessarily someone who sings in for the role. It can be anyone you are close to during the last years of law school or right after graduating from it.

Many mentors come in the shape of superiors who happen to work at the same place that you do. This is why it is very important for you to be surrounded by professionals that can give some key information and advice to your formation. This means that as a mentee you probably won’t have a boss who is constantly lecturing. But, a figure who is always willing to answer questions and help you grow professionally.

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Sometimes, those who once were mentees and now are mentors look back at the history and realize that some of their best mentors were not formally described as such. They were individuals with whom they could hold an enriching professional relationship with.

Those who are about to become mentors after being mentees should always keep in mind the important pieces of advice they once received from their mentors. Being a law mentee is about having the opportunity to observe, meet, and building long-lasting relationships. This happens because in the future you will want to share your skills, knowledge, and connections with those you are mentoring.

Becoming a mentor

Having said that, how do you make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor? There are different answers to this question.

First, as a law mentee, you will have many mentors along your career. This will mean that you will know many attorneys and they will know you back. Having a nice background is highly important to become a successful attorney.

In many cases, a former mentee who is now a successful attorney will become a mentor by simply helping those individuals who just got out of law school. This way, the person who used to be a mentee will start to give hints, advice and pass knowledge to a new generation of attorneys who are eager to learn. This mentor – mentee relationship won’t be formally established but will help the mentee take the right path.

Another way for a former mentee to become a mentor is thanks to the law-student decision. It has been said that mentorship is a both-sided relationship. This is how many law-students or recently graduated lawyers look out for the type of mentor they want to have. After this research takes places, they will approach to their potential mentor to start a mentorship relationship.

When both the mentor and the mentee feel comfortable and find common ground to grow a mutually beneficial relationship, the mentoring process starts. However, this is not yet a formal mentoring relationship. It is an agreement between two people on the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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The last way in which a former mentee can become a law mentor is by actually growing as an attorney. This will mean that the attorney will have a determinant background in the law practice. Also, it will mean that it is a successful and knowledgeable figure. When this happens, usually a law association spots the former mentee and offers it to become a mentor.

There are some associations in the United States who are dedicated to helping law-students become experienced and well-rounded professionals. These associations look for mentor candidates based on the student’s needs and want.

Bottom line, there is not only one way in which a law mentee could become a mentor. It is a process in which knowledge is gradually gained. It is also a new step that needs to be taken in order to help the new generations of attorneys to come be successful.

5 Basic mentoring principles you should assimilate

If you are reading this blog, it is possible that mentoring is already your endeavor, or maybe you are considering working as a mentor. In the latter case (but not less important regarding the first one,) it is essential that you know the basis of an appropriate mentoring; what are the guidelines that will help and guide you through the fascinating and sometimes complex world of helping others find ways. So, in this post, you will find four basic principles that you should evaluate and remember during your study, research, and, above all, on the battlefield. I hope that this information is of your total pleasure and usefulness, and, in that case, do not forget to share it with whom you consider that may appreciate it.

Recommended: 7 Reasons Why You Should Become a Mentor

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  1. Trust

The relationship between a mentor and mentee is, above all, a relationship of trust. Do not think that a title will automatically open the door to someone’s mind and heart. Remember that someone who sits in the mentee chair often feels that someone will tell him what to do with his or her life, and this is something that most people do not enjoy.

No one enjoys feeling like a child again, at least in this sense. So, remember it well: Trust is something you must earn. The key question here is how you break that wall of institutionality between you and the mentee, how you show that you are also a human being who, like him or her, also needs help from time to time. Be casual, joke a little, and establish a bond. That is not less professional at all.

  1. Voluntariness

This principle is intrinsically linked to the former one. Remember that the mentee is there because he needs help, not because someone is forcing him or her to do so, and this element is perhaps one of the most valuable factors of mentoring: The will to learn, to be guided. For this reason, you should always ensure that this relationship is voluntary.

Never allow anyone to force your mentee to initiate a mentoring process with you, and, above all, be careful to condition or manipulate the will of your mentee in case he or she decides to end the process. The only link that reinforces the relationship between a mentor and a mentee is the trust and willingness of both.

  1. The mentee directs each session

Remember it well: Mentoring is not coaching. Unlike the latter, it is the mentee who defines the issues to be addressed in each mentoring session. Although the mentor has a more general perspective of the knowledge the mentee is acquiring, the relationship between the two is not exactly a lecture. The mentee has a need about a specific topic and will approach the mentor to help him/her, above all, to ask the right questions that will help him/her to find satisfactory answers. This is vital: Learn to recognize the differences between mentoring and coaching. Coaching is not a bad thing, of course not. Simply, each process (mentoring and coaching) has different goals, methods, and standards.

Read also: Is there a difference between a mentor and a coach? by Suzzanne Uhland

  1. Patience

Really, there is no need to run in a hurry. Each person assimilates knowledge at a different rate and relates to it in a way that other people may not. So, be patient and take the time to complete each step of the mentoring process. No matter how much you know about a topic, you will realize that being on the side of the mentor will force you to learn much more, and what you already know will become a challenge somewhere along the way. Mentoring is a bilateral relationship in several senses. You, as a mentor, will also be mentee sometimes. So, go slow if necessary.

  1. It is all about goals and the way to achieve them

Every mentoring relationship is circumscribed around the achievement of objectives for which the relationship is to begin. In this sense, mentor and mentee must define their objectives before starting the whole planning process, and, above all, to make the goals tangible for the subsequent measurement of their accomplishment. It is important to keep in mind that a mentoring process is a learning process, and, therefore, it is useful to differentiate performance goals from learning goals. The latter contribute to the former, even so, in a mentoring process, it is important to work on both axes, since they re-feed each other. Likewise, it is interesting to define and differentiate the target goals from the intermediate objectives that will allow you to divide the mentoring process into small steps.

The more defined the objectives, the measurement process will be simpler, and there will be less ambiguity.

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It is very important that you – as a mentor – dialogue with your mentee about these principles before beginning the process. These (and not just these) principles will be the limits that will help you both to know what mentoring is, what it is not, and where you should direct this feedback relationship.