Tools for mentors and mentees 2


Note: if you’re new to mentoring, let alone how and where some tools may be helpful, I suggest you first take a look at my tips and tools for getting the mentoring process off to a strong start.

In this post, I want to focus on tools for getting down to work in the mentor/mentee alliance. Having taken an inventory of the mentee’s current situation, values, strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to:

  • Create motivational goals
  • Envisage the future
  • Clarify issues and challenges

1. SMART goals
Before they even meet their mentor for the first discussion, mentees must have some idea of what they want to achieve and how a mentor can support their progress. I recommend using SMART to ensure that the mentee’s goals are Specific, Measurable, Relevant/Realistic and Time-bound. If the mentee has worked through some preliminary inventory tools, such as strengths, the insights gained can inform the discussion. The mentee and mentor discuss and consolidate those insights and agree some clearly defined goals.

My suggestion: download the template on the Businessballs site, read their typically no-nonsense guide and use it throughout the mentoring process. Tip for mentors: ask your prospective mentee to bring their SMART worksheet to each meeting.

2. Mood board
The go-to tool for interior designers, branding experts and fashion stylists, mood boards can be a handy tool in coaching and mentoring. Creating a mood board can be a great way to get ideas out of one’s head and into a collage, for example bringing goals to life. Or they can be a cringe-worthy waste of time for people who’d rather work in words or numbers – anything but images. So, discuss and establish preferences and see what mentees prefer. For tips for using mood boards to reach your goals, see this post from lifesavvy.

3. Mind maps
The brain-child of Tony Buzan, Mind Maps are great for quickly generating thoughts and ideas. If the mentee is stuck, creating a Mind Map may help them see other possibilities. If the mentee needs to reflect on a challenge, a Mind Map could help them analyse what’s going on and generate new ways of dealing with it. As well as generating ideas, Mind Maps are handy for reviewing and reflecting on experiences; what worked well, not so well and lessons learned to apply. See Tony Buzan’s ‘How to Mind Map’ video that explains the basics.

4. Metaphors
“It’s like…” can be as far as someone may get if they’re talking through a tough challenge. When we struggle to articulate thoughts and feelings, a metaphor can help. For example, asking the mentee ‘how’s this situation like a cartoon?’ or ‘if this were a film, what would it be?’ or ‘how’s it like the weather / a holiday / shoes?’ You get the idea: metaphors jolt our thinking in ways that can help us take a different view and generate new approaches to the challenge. Equally, metaphors can help us describe a triumph. Caveat: metaphors can be like Marmite (see what I just did there?). Some love them, others can’t stand them. See the author of ‘Stories at Work’ talking about the power of metaphor.


These four tools will help mentors and mentees explore where the mentee wants to go and why, what challenges may be in their path and how to generate different approaches. I’ll be sharing more tools and techniques for mentors and mentees in later posts. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about mentoring please get in touch.

You may find these posts useful: So you want to be a mentor? and ‘So you’ve got a mentor – how will you make it work?’


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’





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