Mentoring is a valuable tool to drive personal and professional growth. The CMI Blueprint for Balance identified mentoring as a way to help women progress in the workplace. Organisations can use mentoring schemes to share knowledge, improve teamwork, and foster a culture of generous leadership.
Running a successful mentoring session is a two-way process: mentees need to have prepared points for discussion, while mentors need to provide mentees with the tools and resources to develop their skills. Below are some top tips to make mentoring work.
How to Run a Successful Mentoring Session
1. Prepare Well and Set Clear Objectives for Your Mentoring Session
The mentor and mentee must have a shared understanding of what they wish to achieve from the session. In advance of each the session, mentees need to plan and agree objectives with their mentor. A session agenda can be very helpful and must include:
- A review of actions and learning gained from the previous session
- Outline of objectives for today’s session
- Agreed actions
- Review of the value of the mentoring arrangement, including what could be improved
- Confirmation of the next meeting
2. Communicate Honestly
Open, transparent and honest discussions lie at the heart of running a great mentoring session. A well-run mentoring session allows space for psychological safety and curiosity in which mentors can ask thought-provoking questions that mentees can reflect on beyond the session. To create a safe space, set ground rules before the sessions begin – the first one should be an agreement that what is discussed remains confidential.
3. Choose a Comfortable Session Length
A mentoring session often lasts anything between one to two hours in duration. Mentors need to confirm this from the outset of the mentoring relationship, but also need to leave room for adjustment. Some mentees will respond better to shorter, more frequent meetings, while others will find it easier to have more detailed discussions at a different time.
4...and Set Clear Logistics
For mentoring schemes to be successful, it’s crucial to set meetings in advance. A mentoring arrangement usually specifies a set of three or six sessions every four to six weeks. The time and place agreed for a mentoring session are important: some mentees may prefer a session at the end of the day to give them room for reflection, while others may agree to meet offsite or remotely. If meeting remotely, make sure to check there are good network and Internet connections in advance.
5. Commit to Actions and Review
A great mentoring session requires commitment from both the mentor and mentee. Mentors need to follow up on agreed actions, and review the objectives set out over the course of the programme.
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