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10 Simple Session Steps for busy Mentors

You may know that I am on a mission to increase the level of Business Skills in Birmingham’s Professional and Financial Services. Most people understand that an important aspect of every professional’s development is Mentoring. Whether that is as a Mentee or a Mentor. There are a variety of benefits for both parties.

My career path has been influenced by both formal and informal Mentors, as well as having the pleasure of Mentoring on a variety of schemes. Over the years my mentees have ranged from an individual convicted of a violent crime to accomplished Chairs of organisations. Most of my Mentoring has been on pro-bono schemes but organisations also hire me to Mentor carefully identified senior members of staff.

As we are all busy professionals would it be ok if I shared these 10 simple session steps that will help you get the most from your Mentoring?

These steps have been developed over the years drawing from my training and personal experiences of mentoring a variety of individuals, so I suggest using them and see how much it improves your sessions. Some people like to follow a system and other’s will dip in and out and try a few of the steps. That’s perfectly fine as the intention is to improve the overall experience for you.

1. Before the meeting

Phone or email a reminder about the session and a brief sentence on what you are going to be talking about. This ensures that you both remember and know if you need to bring anything specific with you.

2. Are you both feeling ok?

It might seem really obvious but before you start, check that as a Mentor you are in a good state of mind and ready to listen to your Mentee. Whatever is happening back at the office, leave it there. If you need to, then take a slightly different route to walk to the venue so you clear your head.
Once you are ready to start, check that the Mentee is in the appropriate state of mind for the mentoring. If they are not relaxed and/or motivated, this needs to be addressed.

3. Session Outcome

Agree between you the Outcome for the mentoring session. Also agree how long that you will be spending together and set the frame that it is ok to check “the watch” occasionally, so that you keep to time and don’t overrun.

Suggested Question:

Q “What’s the best result you could get from our session in the next 45 minutes?”

4. Review

Check in on the results of actions undertaken following your previous session together.
(NOTE: If it is your first session, then there is nothing to review).

5. Discussion including Goal Outcome

Facilitate some kind of discussion to create motivation and a plan, deal with any hindrances, and help create the next tangible steps for your Mentee.
As a clear, written Goal is essential to any successful completion of a project, I use my “Goal Outcome planning system” to create and review the Mentee’s objective. Use whatever Goal planning system that you have learnt and use.

6. Activity (Optional)

Give or offer the Mentee an activity to complete by an agreed time, such as the next session.

7. Time Notice

Give a 7 minute time warning before the end of the session. It doesn’t have to be exactly 7 minutes, but it needs to be enough time to ensure that you don’t leave the Mentee in the middle of some thought provoking ideas. It gives time to tie up any loose ends, and for the Mentee to make any notes or action points. It also gives time to do the last three steps.

8. Value gained by Mentee

This is important to understand from your Mentee, as sometimes while you are sitting there really listening and asking questions, you may not realise how beneficial it has been to them.
So ask them the value gained e.g.

“What have you gained of value from our session today?”

“How well have you met your session outcome?”

9. Value received by Mentor

Occasionally the Mentee may say that they “felt a bit guilty as they did all the talking and got so much out of it, but are not sure what the mentor gained?”. This is then the ideal time to reassure them of one or two insights or learning’s that you got during your session. This is also a helpful reminder for our own continuous personal development.

Suggested comments:

“I (Mentor) have got … XYZ… from our session.”

“Thank you. I value… XYZ… about what you’ve said.”

10. Any other business and close

Arrange the next session when you will both meet and diarise.

These ten steps are aimed at Mentors, however if you are a Mentee then feel free to print this out and take along to your next Mentoring session and share with your Mentor. Who knows, it may encourage them to raise their game even more.

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