Reflections on mentoring

I was recently invited by the CIPD London team to be part of a group of mentors to help budding HR/L&D professionals develop their skills and knowledge through mentoring relationships.

As a result of the event, I’ve agreed to mentor 3 people. Each is at a different stage in their career, and I’ve had an initial meeting with each. These are some thoughts on how I think I’ve started with these relationships and where I can do more for them to be better.

It seems that I like to talk. I need to rein this in. I think.

I mean, there’s stuff to say! These people are beholden on me to impart all my knowledge of the universe unto them and help them improve so they can be amazing individuals. If I don’t tell them everything, how will they possibly learn anything?

Of course I let them talk. Kind of.

My main learning point here is that I need to make sure I don’t go overkill with what I want to say. This is the start of a learning journey for them and there’s time and opportunity later to develop thoughts and observations.

It’s easy for me to make assumptions about what they must do to make things better. As an objective observer, I support that’s the privilege we have. We can see that they’ve got to a certain point, and might need some help moving to the next point.

I’m normally quite careful about my assumptions. I don’t tend to declare the answer to their situations. I tend to offer my observations and my reflections. If that marry’s with what they want to achieve, then it works out. If not, I’ll need to be mindful that there can be better ways to encourage thinking and debate.

As a mentor, I am conferred a position of authority and power. I never like having that. It doesn’t chime with my values and how I like to operate. Except as a parent. But even there I’m learning that power and authority is a shared responsibility with my kids.

For me it’s more important to create an environment of trust and openness. That’s where great exploration tends to happen and with healthy discussion too. That means, for me, ensuring that I’m not talking in ways which are hierarchical, or by directly highlighting faults or errors. That’s not my place. It’s my place to enable a discussion and thinking to happen.

And, for now, the last thing that I’m aware of is that this is a new journey for me too. I’ve never professionally mentored others before. There’s a feeling I’ve been left with after the initial meets which can be best described as “I’ve done some good”. I think that’s a healthy reaction. I’m also cautious that I’m not left thinking that because I have a delusion about my own ego. As much as that might be part of the mix, I think there’s a healthy balance of – I could point to parts of the discussion where my mentee shared with me how they have found it to be useful.

This post is written in part for #wolweek, where people are invited to openly share their thinking and their practice so that other people can learn from the sharing, and in turn, hopefully, share their own experience for others to learn from them.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

One thought on “Reflections on mentoring”

  1. Sukh, A great post from you as always! It struck a chord with as I have mentored a few people in my life, formally and informally where they have wanted to seek guidance from me on anything and everything in life.
    Yes, you’re right, so easy to tell them so much about everything because we like talking and we want to kind of download everything we know for their benefit! I’ve had to rein in myself a number of times.
    You are right that it’s a journey of discovery for both. I have seen my mentees grow from shy students at a Sixth Form College to confident students embarking on their Uni education and also Graduates who have just started their career in HR to highflying HR Managers and Directors.
    It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn all about new trends in Social Media, technology, their likes and dislikes but also participate in some great debates on their views on a whole range of subjects.

    I’m sure you’re going to like the experience! Enjoy! x

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