It is a commonly held belief that coaching and mentoring relationships help to bring out the best in people. In corporate settings, those in leadership positions are often expected to work with their employees to provide support and encouragement, acting as their “coach” or “mentor.”
However, many leaders do not know how to balance this new relationship. Mentoring or coaching is about much more than just telling someone what to do — it requires working with employees to make decisions, solve problems and develop skills. These relationships not only benefit the mentee but the company as a whole by creating a more independent and efficient workforce.
But as a busy leader, how do you find the time to sort through the world of information and noise to seek the best advice? EBSCO’s corporate learning platform, Accel5®, helps you and your organization access the top thought leaders, their published works, training courses, videos, etc. These resources can help build your learning paths and improve your strengths as a leader.
Keys to being a great mentor …
Build an Authentic Connection
A critical step to becoming a great mentor is making your mentee feel comfortable. This requires an authentic connection where both parties feel respected and understood. The Accel5 business book summary for Coaching Up! Inspiring Peak Performance When It Matters Most outlines simple steps that mentors can take to establish this connection, including:
- Greet employees warmly and personally. Remember that the person with the most power or authority is responsible for making the other person feel comfortable, so always be kind and warm with your employees.
- Begin with a human connection. Instead of launching into an issue, a coach should ask open-ended questions such as, “How is it going?” or “How was your weekend?” so that the conversation can begin with a more casual and natural tone.
- Maintain a relaxed posture. A coach should deliberately relax his or her posture when meeting with an employee. If the employee makes a particularly sensitive or important point, the coach should lean in to indicate interest.
- Practice humility and humor. Both humility and humor are grounded in vulnerability; these qualities make a coach seem real and lay the ground for authentic connections.
“Mentoring or coaching is about much more than just telling someone what to do — it requires working with employees to make decisions, solve problems and develop skills.”
Recognize Their Strengths
As a mentor, it is your job to help your mentees reach their full potential. To accomplish this, it is best that you help them understand and build upon their strengths. In a video for Accel5, author Curt Coffman offers a tip that leaders can use to help others discover their strengths. Coffman suggests that a good leader will pay attention to what people do outside of work to see what their talents are. As you get to know your employees, pay attention to what they do for fun to see how this aligns with their roles in the workplace.
Earn Their Trust
In an effective mentor and mentee relationship, there is a high level of trust which gives employees the confidence needed to share their goals and concerns. Building a trusting relationship takes time and patience. In the Accel5 book summary for the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees, there are daily behaviors outlined that will help coaches to earn the trust of mentees, including:
- Give credit to your team for their accomplishments.
- Model the behavior that you’d expect from your mentee.
- Complete or assist with assignments for employees who need time off.
- Be transparent and approachable regarding tough decisions and feedback.
Interested to see what Accel5 has to offer?
Identify and Pursue Stretch Goals
As a mentor, do not be afraid to encourage your mentee to aim high with “stretch goals.” According to the Accel5 summary for “9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Mentors” stretch goals are lofty ambitions that can only be reached by taking big leaps.
To begin the stretch process, you should speak with your employees about where they see themselves in their careers in five or ten years. You should then work with your mentees to define a path to their goals with measurable milestones. This will help to ensure that the mentees do not get overwhelmed or lose confidence.
There are many ways to nurture employees in their careers. A Stacks corporate learning portal is a scalable, sustainable, customizable workforce development solution designed to empower learners and bring together learning initiatives. Stacks enables you to transform your corporation’s learning experiences into a single, streamlined, intuitive workflow that generates meaningful insights and improved outcomes. Stacks is the first turnkey, responsive web platform with plug and play integrations designed specifically to bring together proprietary content, courses and electronic resources alongside subscription and supplementary sources. Stacks creates a seamless user experience on any device, anywhere.