It’s some time since I have written about mentoring yet I have sessions ongoing with three people. It is a kind of background activity, something I try to fit in around everything else I am up to and an activity which gives me a great amount of pleasure. I know a few people who are also involved as mentors and all of us feel the same sense of satisfaction from engaging with people and helping them to get their heads around whatever they are struggling worth.
My aim during the sessions is not to solve problems or even to advise people how to solve their problems. It is my firm belief that it is best if they do this themselves or, even better, in conjunction with their work colleagues. I don’t know enough about their business to be able to give that level of detailed information that they crave.
Instead, my aim is to help them to think about the way they approach the issues that they have by asking them questions, such as why is this a problem or what is it you are hoping to achieve or what is it that you expect others to do.
Most people already have the answers to their issues already in their heads and they merely need a little probing for them to come out. Through talking with them and listening to what they are saying they hint at things they are concerned about yet haven’t addressed head on.
AS I say in our conversation, this is not a test. There are no right or wrong answers and my role is not to judge them but rather to challenge their thinking and assumptions, to help them dismantle their approaches and put them back together again in a different order.
The beauty is that while I am doing this with them, they are also doing it with me. I challenge my own assumptions using them as a mirror. I learn so much about myself.
I would recommend mentoring to everyone.