Q. Why do mentors and their mentees need tools? A. Because in a professional context, mentoring isn’t ‘just a chat’: it’s a process through which people gain clarity, insights and self-knowledge, enabling mentees to achieve goals. If you’re a newcomer to mentoring (mentor or mentee), I recommend you read my posts ‘Essential questions mentors need to ask’ and ‘Should you get a mentor?’
Using tools in the mentoring process has several advantages; for example, they can:
- prompt thinking and deeper reflection
- build self-awareness
- clarify issues and challenges
Simple self-assessment tools can clarify the mentee’s current situation. Think of them as different ways to take an inventory. Here are four tools that can get mentoring off to a strong start.
1. ‘The Wheel of Life’ is a classic coaching tool that looks at different aspects of our lives. It can help mentees identify how their work impacts other aspects of their life, so that they can see what’s working well (or not) and what really matters. Here’s a video from Michael Heppell, where he explains how it works and provides a wheel you can download. If you’re a mentor, give this a test run so you can experience what many a mentee is asked to do early on in the process. Great quote from Mr Heppell: “it’s not about getting 10s – it’s about getting balance.”
2. Values Our values are about what really matters to us. They are A Big Deal. Seriously: people have risked or laid down their lives for their values, think of Rosa Parks or the Suffragettes. Feuds can erupt and friendships can fail when our values are infringed. Our values show up at work, too: what work we gravitate to and find rewarding – and what work makes us a little uneasy. So it’s worth geting in touch with your values, whether you’re a mentor or mentee. The University of Edinburgh has more on values, questions to help you identify and reflect on your own, along with an exercise to identify your top 5.
3. Strengths Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of working with our strengths. How do you know what yours are? a) you can reflect on those times when you’ve been engrossed in and energised by what you were doing – probably using your strengths – or b) you can complete a free survey on the VIA Institute on Character. This is a respected tool, if basic (but hey, it’s free) and a great place to start – for both mentees and mentors. If you want a 1:1 deeper dive into strengths, get in touch to find out more.
4. SWOT analysis Yes, it is possible to take a good look at ourselves through the lens of our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Having looked at our strengths we can now consider our weaknesses, without beating ourselves up but with compassion. Threats could be internal, e.g. our own derailers (imposter syndrome springs to mind), or external, such as the broader business context. Mind Tools has some superb resources for this – video, downloads and worksheets.
These four tools will help mentors and mentees map out the areas to focus on at the start. I’ll be sharing more tools and techniques for mentors and mentees in later posts. Meanwhile, if you have any questions 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?’
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