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

Mentoring relationships come in all shapes in sizes, like we have discussed before here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, and that means that while no two mentorships are alike there are some common factors they share in order to be successful. With that being said, it is important to also understand that not all mentoring relationships are as successful as others and that there are mentors who truly make a difference when compared to their peers.

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It is an honor to be chosen to be someone’s mentor. There is a lot that goes into that responsibility and those who truly care never take it lightly. A mentor is a highly influential figure in someone else’s life and the support they give is extremely valuable and important in helping their protégées get ahead and reach their full potential.

Understanding the full potential of a mentor and the immense responsibility it carries with to fill those shoes in someone’s life can be daunting and overwhelming, and accepting that fact is the first step that proves that you will make a difference as a mentor; the trepidation for fear of getting it wrong.

Mentoring isn’t easy and being great at it is even more difficult. A great part of it has to do with a correct match between mentor and mentee and the idea that each one of the parties involved in able and willing to give the partnership their best and contribute with everything they can. However, even a great match up is only part of the issue, there are many things that mentees just like mentors must bring to the table and contribute to the partnership in order to not just to succeed but also to stand apart from the rest. Helping others may be easier than you think, but creating a truly lasting difference takes a lot of hard work.

One of the first things to consider is the fact that great mentors are involved and take real actions towards the evolution of their mentees. Mentors who care about the people under their wing and about doing a great job at mentoring are known for taking risks and getting their hands dirty when it’s time to get the job done. Anyone can talk about great mentoring, but only a few can back those words with real meaningful actions and that is one of the most important things that make a great mentor.

A great mentor doesn’t just solve situations for their mentees; they actually find ways to challenge them and help them believe in their own abilities and their capacity to get ahead and figure things out on their own. A person who pushes you is a person who is in a way forcing you into a situation that will help you find the better side of you and polish your skills to be better or even find skills you didn’t even know you had.

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A great mentor is real. Mentors do not pretend to know everything as they are well aware of their own shortcomings and will help their mentees utilize the experience they have accrued over the years. It is a reality that you may not be able to learn from other people’s mistake, but it is worth a try and going against that approach pretty much negates the entire point of having a mentor. Experience has its good and its bad sides and you must embrace both of them in order to truly learn. A great mentor will not simply sit there and tell you stories about their glory or show you how successful they are. A mentor who cares is someone who sees the value in defeats just as they see it in victories, especially when it comes to their own experiences.

A great mentor knows how to communicate. Body language and nonverbal queues are ways great leaders and especially mentors must dominate in order to communicate efficiently. Your job as a mentor is that of guiding, advising and inspiring and that is why you must learn to be an effective communicator and someone with high emotional intelligence. These skills are not just great for mentoring, but also for any type of leader and for someone who is trying to advance their career like is the case with mentees who seek a mentor’s help. Being a great example of an emotionally intelligent individual is a great way to pass down those skills.

To sum up, a great mentor is a person who understands the importance of teamwork and communication in a relationship as important and influential as mentorships are. They are dedicated, patient, firm and inquisitive about their mentees and their journey and understand overall the importance of allowing people to grow by giving them a chance to shine and not withholding the experiences that have made them who they are today, even if those experiences aren’t always pleasant.

How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

I think we can all agree on the fact that our own career success can seldom be attributed to ourselves alone. There are many people who throughout our process has inspired, guided and taken us under their wing and aided our own personal and professional growth.

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Being a mentor is a rewarding opportunity in which you are able to make a visible change in the life of many and pride yourself in knowing that your knowledge remains as a legacy that you bestow upon those who choose to follow you and allow themselves to be inspired by your work. Likewise, having a mentor is a great opportunity to learn from the experience of others and diminish the steep learning curve that some professions require. As a mentee you can live experiences without having to go through them yourself, saving a lot of time and resources to better focus your efforts on making your experience unique and maximizing the use of all the information you are gaining by having mentoring sessions with a seasoned professional.

The thing about mentoring is that its value goes beyond the knowledge and skill mentees can gain from the relationship; it is also about acquiring valuable social skills that prepare pupils to thrive in a fast-paced world in which knowing things or having the ability to accomplish tasks is no longer enough to be successful.

A mentor is also a great mirror in which mentees can see themselves reflected and receive valuable feedback about aspects they may not be able to personally recognize, but when brought forth by an objective observer, can provide great insight over how to proceed and where to focus efforts. Perhaps one of the greatest things mentors do is inspire their mentees into reaching their full potential by giving them a great example to follow and a north by which they can guide their own compass.

Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we want to talk about the ways mentors inspire us and how their example and habits can be so influential in the way followers learn and even act themselves.

Work as a bridge

One of the most inspiring characteristics a mentor has to offer their mentees is their ability to work as a bridge between the interested party and their own network. Mentors are people who are well-connected due to their extensive experience, and that is something that makes them quite valuable and also highly admired because it shows that other people in the business respect them and can vouch for their abilities. A mentor who is well connected is a great example to emulate and follow, and thus an immense source of inspiration.

Accessibility

Mentors who are easy to reach and easy to talk to are very inspirational because that down-to-earth attitude shows that they are in touch with reality and understand the importance of their own role as leaders. Mentors should answer emails and other inquiries and make themselves accessible in order to properly perform their duties and also gain the confidence of those who follow them by making them feel like they matter and their time is also important to them.

They are mentees as well

It goes along with that humility to be able to see yourself as someone who is constantly learning. No matter who you are, there is always something new you can learn from others. An inspiring mentor is someone who sees their mentees as sources of knowledge and understands that there is much that can be learned from them as well. This type of attitude is intelligent, admirable and considered highly inspirational.

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Inspiration through feedback

Honest and thorough feedback is something that every mentor should be able to provide to his or her mentees; however, this isn’t always the case. A mentor who takes their time and truly analyzes the situation and provides their pupils with advice that is applicable and relevant is a great source of inspiration and a driving force towards personal and professional growth. Do not simply go through the numbers, make an effort to give valuable feedback to your people.

Humility and confidence

Being humble goes a long way and there are few things that can earn as much respect and instill so much confidence than a person who is able to admit when they do not know something or when they are mistaken. A great mentor doesn’t stop there because even though they may not have the answers right away, they will surely find a way to acquire them.

Charisma

Mentors are interesting and engaging individuals. Notice the way the carry themselves in all settings, and it will come as no surprise the reason why they are successful. This skill is particularly inspiring because it applies to all settings and not just business related situations. A mentor who know how to carry him or herself is a great source of inspiration to someone who is making a name for themselves in the world and getting to know how things really work.

Mentoring a teleworking team: A new and necessary challenge

The Internet is the cause of many of the social and cultural changes we face today. One of them is the way of working. This information technology has made many people prefer to work from their homes and other remote sites, rather than doing their labors from an office. In fact, several companies no longer have large headquarters, and most of their employees operate from home. In other words, the Internet has made companies more intangible (and perhaps more efficient because of this.) In consequence, the task of directing and mentoring the employees of a company must change. It is one thing to do mentoring in a traditional company (even if the mentor must travel from one city or another country to visit his or her mentees,) and another thing is to do it through Skype.

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So, in this post, I will analyze this situation and give some useful tips for a successful virtual mentoring.

Telework is an evidence that a company is primarily communications; a communications network, more than a group of people operating in a physical facility. This type of organization takes advantage of new technologies so that both parties, workers, and employees, can benefit from them. Telework offers a number of advantages, indeed.  It allows an employee, consultant, or contractor to work remotely from his or her home or another chosen place during a few days or the entire week. It is also an option for those days when an employee must attend to personal matters that will only require a reduced part of the day. However, teleworking may be quite challenging both for mentors and employees, since there is a lack of physical control over the mentoring processes, and some employees usually mix work and personal life, and it complicates their performance.

So, mentoring and managing teleworking employees requires a very concrete approach to what it means to ‘stay in touch.’ It requires a results-oriented management style with good planning performance of all employees.

Read also: What Can Mentoring Do For Me And My Career?, by Suzzanne Uhland

It is necessary to establish clear communication and to take additional steps to build proper trust and evaluation processes. Many corporations employ remote teams, and the manager communicates daily with his or her colleagues, as well as the employees in different parts of the world, not just by phone or email, but thanks to a set of new Internet-based tools, like WhatsApp. However, and mainly due to fears and lack of custom, many executives still find it very difficult to manage remote equipment.

In order to get the most out of your teleworkers team, you need to establish clear and regular communication to build trust and evaluating that the employees are working efficiently. It is important to keep in touch with them, and not only when it comes to business: Use webinars for training them, spend some moments of your day to ask them how it is going with them. Keep thing human.

Now, setting up tasks via email and providing an urgent contact channel is fine. But it may be much better if you use video conferencing software to which everyone has access, like Skype and Hangouts, because it allows you to see faces and to normalize relationships. It is important to keep in touch periodically. How much? Hold such meetings once a week, short and effective communications. Choose a day and an hour that suits most or, if necessary, divide your remote employees by time zones and create work groups. The ideal time may be early Monday to plan everything up from the beginning of the week, or maybe on Friday afternoon to check the evolution of goals and setting new targets for the next seven days of work. The important thing is ‘to bring them together,’ whatever day it may be. We are humans, social beings, we need this. In addition, this helps to impose schedules and thus contributing to the organization and overall responsibility.

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Technology is a great ally for business and opens many doors that would otherwise remain closed. It is basic to increase productivity and strengthen ties. But, again, you are working with people, and it is important to socialize in person. Just checking that everything is going well (or not) is never enough. They should feel an essential part of the company, and it is worth making an effort to meet them personally. It complements the daily emails and the weekly video conferences with face-to-face meetings between the local staff and the workers that operate from other parts of the world. Collect them in the same place. Buy the tickets and cover the expenses. Organize trips to the central office so people can meet in person and chat even once a year. It is their company, after all, so make them feel at home.

It is also important that you keep updated about the new technological developments for improving your communication. Telework mentoring is more than writing and checking emails. Be always curious about what can the new tools do for your business.

Recommended: Mentoring Virtually in a Teleworking Environment

5 Key Differences Between Mentoring and Coaching

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When we hear the word “mentoring”, we may relate it to some activities that we usually see in coaching events. However, mentoring and coaching are essentially different concepts that aim to have very different type of impacts on people, despite the fact that they often use the same type of approach and skills.

Since it may be hard to know when we are talking about mentoring or coaching, in this article, Suzzanne Uhland will talk about five key differences between mentoring and coaching that can help readers have a better understanding of both concepts and decide which one could work better for its company.

  1. Orientation

Mentoring focuses on relationships. This means that it aims to allow the mentee to know itself in order to help it feel safe within any given environment. Mentoring is oriented to specific goals related to personal skills and goals, such as having a more balanced life, building self- confidence, improving self- perception or understanding how the personal life can affect an individual in its working environment.

On the other hand, coaching focuses on the task. It is a great way for people to identify what they are lacking and work hard to improve it. This way coaching can help people become more efficient, thinking strategically, or giving more accurate information to others. In this sense, the coach’s job is to teach the coachee how to build up or improve a set of skills in order to take care of specific tasks in a better way.

  1. Short Term Vs. Long Term

Mentoring is understood as a long-term relationship between the mentor, the mentee and their context. It requires that all the involved parties can learn about each other because this will help them improve their environment and create bonds of trust between one another. To mentoring it is highly important for all the parties to feel safe, this is why building a good mentoring relationship can take up to a year to be built.

On the contrary, coaching cares about taking place for as long as it is needed. Usually, it is divided into a set of sessions that take place in a short period of time. The success of a coach is measured by its impact in a short period of time. It is important to keep in mind that everything depends on the kind of issue that is being addressed by the coach and the relationship between it and its coachee.

  1. Development Vs. Performance

Mentoring is interested in the individual’s development. This means that aims to have a deep impact on the way the person is structured. This impact should last for long period of time, affecting the future of the mentee in a positive way. This characteristic helps to improve the relationship between the manager and the employee who is being mentored because roles are defined in a better way and have a purpose in time.

Coaching, on the other side, aims to improve the coachee’s performance. This means that it is focused on the way things are being done today. Its main goal is to improve the individual’s current skills. When these skills are correctly improved, the coach’s job is over.

Related: What Can Mentoring Do For Me And My Career?

  1. Required Design

Mentoring is tailor-made. It requires the implementation of a design phase where a strategic purpose can be drawn. As it focuses on relationships, the used model may vary from one individual to another. Plus, not every mentor is meant to meet every mentee. Thanks to this, a matching process is also required.

As coaching about any matter can be conducted right away, it doesn’t require a design. This is why coaching events can take place anywhere at any time and include large groups of people at the same time. In a way, the only design coaching needs take place when identifying which area is going to be treated and the level of expertise that is needed in order to have the right tools to have an impact on the coachees.

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  1. Immediate Manager

Mentoring immediate manager is indirectly involved with the mentoring process. Most of the times the manager has little to do with the mentoring experience. It gives a freeway to the mentor so it can build a relationship with the mentee. However, when it is required, the manager may suggest some matches and give a few recommendations during the process.

The way coaching works require the manager to work hand-in-hand with the coachee. This happens because the manager is the one who is supposed to give both the coach and the coachee feedback on their results. This way, specific problems related to particular tasks can be addressed. The coach needs the manager’s input to know how the coaching process is evolving and the things that could be improved about it.

What Can Mentoring Do For Me And My Career?

Mentoring just like teaching is an honorable endeavor in which someone decides to sacrifice some of his or her time to invest in the personal and professional development of another person. Mentoring programs can do wonders for a company not only by helping individuals become more competitive in the field and more prepared to undertake the challenges of the market but also by fostering an environment of wellness and loyalty towards the organization. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked before about the importance of mentors for career development and how they can impact many aspects beyond the company’s competitiveness and employee morale.

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A good mentor is a person who is willing to share their time, knowledge, expertise and overall skills. They can help you find some perspective and find an angle that can give you a more positive outlook in life. Mentors truly care about the success of their mentees and know what they are talking about when they share their advice.

One of the most crucial aspects of a great mentor is the fact that even as they can be a great leader and help you achieve more with their guidance, they understand that they are not a finished product themselves. Mentors who are truly remarkable are people who are constantly growing and becoming better at everything they do. They are curious, inquisitive and do not settle for staying inside their comfort zone. Perhaps this is why we always talk about your responsibility as a mentee and what you can do to reciprocate inside the relationship.

Sometimes the most challenging part of mentorship is to actually understand its advantages and seek the relationship as something that you accept as a beneficial career move. Many times people are unable to identify the necessity and advantages mentoring can bring to them and overlook this amazing opportunity and that is why today we want to explore a little bit into what mentoring can do for you.

One of the most valuable aspects of mentoring is its ability to allow you to look at yourself in the mirror. What we mean by that is the fact that mentoring allows you to actually examine your weaknesses just as much as your own strengths. Your mentor is a great source of feedback that can help you identify things that you didn’t even know about yourself. This aspect can sometimes work as a double edge sword as it is the case with some people who believe they want to honestly examine themselves but are sometimes unable to deal with the repercussions. Maturity and willingness to accept well-intentioned critique is absolutely necessary to make the most out of this part of mentoring.

Another very important aspect of mentoring and probably the one that draws the largest amount of people towards these relationships is the search for knowledge. It is obvious that you do not know everything, as nobody does, but mentors are individuals with vast knowledge and experience that are willing to take their time to share it with you. Getting involved with mentoring and being open to acquiring new knowledge is the right attitude to have towards your own development. Remember that this is not a one-way street and just as you are learning from your mentor, you can teach them things you know better than they do. Mentoring is a very enriching experience when it comes to sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas and skillsets.

The leadership skills you can pick up from a mentor are sometimes the best lessons you can receive without even thinking about it. Your mentor is a person that will teach you things, even while they are teaching because their example is one of the most valuable knowledge they can pass down.

In order to take advantage of the relationship, you must be vigilant and observe the way they do things and their reasoning behind the decisions they make. Think about it, they are people who have been successful in your same field and individuals you most likely look up to. Professional growth is just one part of the package and you must also grow as a person to further develop your career.

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Last but not least, a mentor is a great refuge where you can be completely honest and talk about the things that you do not understand or bother you without fear of the consequences of your candor. A mentor can give you a unique point of view from their leadership role and perhaps help you understand why some decisions are made at their level that you may not share or disagree with; all of this without risking upsetting your supervisors with your questions or your own discomfort with the situation. Mentoring is a great way to put yourself in the shoes of a leader and know what it takes to make the hard choices so you can be prepared for when the time comes in which you have to make those choices yourself.

Some good tips to manage a mentoring relationship

We have already seen many definitions for mentoring and we have seen many types of programs and approaches to mentoring. We don’t have to go again at those definitions. Instead, this time we will focus on the relationship mentee and mentors have and how this relation can be managed.

It is not only about a contract or having some kind of agreement but also about understanding the goals and the objectives that the mentors have for their mentees and what mentees expect from their mentors.

Suzzanne Uhland has compiled some very useful tips that give the readers some pointers on what are the terms that every mentoring relationship should have so mentors, mentees, and companies that use such programs understand and get the most out of their programs.  

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The first meeting

This is comparable to the first impression and the saying “there is only one chance to make a first impression”. Here the mentor and the mentee should meet each other and be very open about all the topics and about their own backgrounds and experiences. The idea with this first encounter is to know each other and to build that much-needed trust that will be the keystone for everything during the mentoring relationship. Some of the topics that are recommended to be discussed by mentor and mentee are the objectives and expectations of the relationship; what will the responsibilities be and what will the time commitments be; a place and schedule for the meetings; how confidential information will be treated and what will the limits be to conversations and topics;  which obstacles could arise and how to deal with them; and the terms to end the relationship.

The objectives and expectations of the relationship

Here the mentee´s goals are of most importance. The mentor should treat this information with a lot of commitment because here is where he or she can understand where the relationship will go. The goals should be specific, attainable and measurable. Going down to reality, the mentees sometimes don’t know where they are going exactly or have goals that are either too crazy or too short. Here the mentor can push the mentee to get out of his or her comfort zone and make the mentee think outside of the box and look for bigger and more ambitious goals. After this, the mentor should take a good look and see if he or she can really help the mentee on reaching such goals. This will prevent one of the most common reasons that mentoring programs fail which is a mismatch of mentor and mentee. Then, if there is a match, the mentor and mentee should discuss how these goals are going to be met.

A topic that mentors should avoid is talking about how expectations could fail or how their personalities could clash in the future of the relationship.  If there is chemistry the relationship should start and make changes as they go because if there is empathy on both sides any problem can be solved and learned from.

The limits

It may sound similar to a couple who negotiates times and hours for their own space, but it is absolutely necessary. The goals and objectives should be set and the boundaries for them should be discussed as well. Mentor and mentee have to be very clear on what limits would the relationship have because often people become too friendly or they use more time for the relationship than it is expected affecting other activities for the mentor or the mentee. Other problem that could arise are the questions on how to handle a difficult member of the board or the company; concerns about the strategic approach that the company has; and personal issues that are not the mentor´s job to handle. In many firms, a different mentor that has nothing to do with the mentee or is not within his group is assigned to the mentee in order to deal with personal issues and to not lose the ability to have a full and open disclosure.  Some of the common limits that firms set for a mentor – mentee relationship are: that the mentor gets involved in issues that require dispute resolution; using the relationship for direct career advancement, and talking about money or having an economic relationship.

Confidentiality and conflicts

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This stage is delicate and should be managed correctly by the mentor. Of course, a lot of information that is confidential will come up in the conversations but there has to be an agreement on which is useful for the relationship and which information is just part of the conversation itself and not part of the program. If the lawyers are from different firms, for example, they should know and understand the Rules of Professional Conduct and abide by them.

Be sure to also read this post about the advantages of mentoring in the law profession.

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