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Web Worthy: A Weekly Mentoring Roundup (May 22 - 28)

MentorCloud's Web-Worthy series is a curated list of the best mentoring articles and stories from the past week. Check in every Thursday for inspiration, guidance, and practical advice on everything related to mentoring! 

The Takeaway:  

  • The Sherpa Approach to Mentoring by Leo Lax via Entrepreneur 
    • "Entrepreneurs live in an environment with thousands of goals and opportunities, and a thousand more different ways to get there. The value of a mentor is to provide focus, help determine which path will likely lead to success and hand over the reins for implementation."
  • Mentor Others for Your Own Professional Development by Margaret Ruvoldt via Huffington Post
    • "Mentoring requires a more personal connection and a willingness to share your own journey. To have effective mentoring conversations, you must have a higher level of self-awareness and self-reflection. Your professional journey is a kind of blueprint for those you mentor. In order to guide them, you have to have a deep understanding of how you got to where you are, be purposeful in thinking about your own skills and knowledge."

  • Why this CEO believes in multiple mentors by Caroyn Rodz via Fortune
    • "Each individualcontributes a unique perspective based on their ownexperiences, and together they are my sounding board when faced with difficult and important decisions. In return, I support them in their endeavors and share my expertise when needed. Remember: a mentorship will only be beneficial if both (or all) parties areequally invested in the relationship."
  • Top 10 Qualities of a Good Mentor by Penny Loretto via About Careers 
    • "8. Sets and meets ongoing personal and professional goals.
      A good mentor continually sets a good example by showing how his/her personal habits are reflected by personal and professional goals and overall personal success."

  • Business Mentoring Matters: How to Prepare for Your Meeting With Your Mentor via Management Mentors
    • "Asking a person to consider avoids their need to respond yes or no immediately––which makes it more likely they may say yes. Also, clearly stating the time commitment you are requesting is important. After all, timing is an important issue to consider. Not only WHEN to ask someone to be your mentor, but HOW MUCH time you are asking them to invest in you."

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Q&A: The Art of Inquiry in Mentoring

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A successful mentoring program is built on relationship, and the life vein of any relationship is communication. You can’t build trust, collaborate on goals, measure progress, or transfer knowledge—all important elements of a strong mentoring relationship—without maintaining strong and effective communication.

In Tune in: The Importance of Listening in Mentoring, we explained how listening, an important element of communication, is an essential quality in a good mentor. But there is another element of good communication that is even more important than listening, and that is the ability to ask the right questions.

The right question can mean the difference between clarity and confusion. Both mentors and mentees can benefit equally from this skill. With the right questions, mentors can gain a thorough understanding of a mentee's current skillset, what they hope to gain from the mentorship, and what fears or doubts might be holding them back.

In turn, mentees can use intelligently developed questions to help them understand a mentor’s background and how it relates to their role as a mentor, the mentor’s expectations, and how their mentor defines success. All of these things are key ingredients to a mentorship that starts out strong and will stand the test of time.

There are many different question types and techniques, but some of them are especially suited for a mentoring relationship:

Open vs. Closed Questions

Open and closed questions are similar in the sense that both methods are designed to elicit a specific type of answer. Open questions are geared toward developing conversation. They aim for long, detailed answers that deliver lots of information. Closed questions, on the other hand, elicit short answers designed to communicate facts.

Example (Open Question): What are your primary career goals?

Example (Closed Question): How many mentees have you had in your career?

Structured Questions

Structured questions are designed to inform the respondent of the reasoning behind a set of questions. This creates the setting for an open Q&A geared toward developing comfortable dialogue with the respondent.

Example: In order for us to set expectations for the mentorship, I’ll need to ask you a few questions about your goals and intentions.

Utilize Wait-time, or Silence

A strategically placed pause or extended silence between questions creates space in a Q&A session. This method is used for emphasis as well as to draw out a response. Pausing before or after a question or statement also gives the respondent time to evaluate the question being asked and devise a thoughtful answer.

Example: You have the potential to become a leader in your career…Can you tell me the defining characteristics of a good leader?

Socratic Questioning

The great philosopher Socrates was famous for using questions to promote learning. This method of questioning is designed to encourage respondents to go deeper by communicating the thought process behind their answers. Respondents are asked to analyze their answers and explain why they have a certain thought or feel a certain way. The purpose is to gain a thorough understanding of their goals.

Example: What is your idea of success? Can you explain what this definition of success means to you?

Questioning to Elicit Participation

This method of questioning is especially suited for group mentoring sessions. In a group setting, it’s all too easy for less outspoken individuals to retreat into the crowd. Questions designed to elicit participation aim to draw these individuals out and encourage them to interact with the group. In this way, shy mentees gain just as much from the session as outgoing ones.

Example: What do you look for in a mentor? Turn to your neighbor and explain your answer.  

Managed Responses

Finally, a thoughtful response can be just as important as a question, and it can sometimes yield the information you didn’t gain from the question. In mentoring, there are no “wrong” answers, but there is often a need for further clarification of a respondent’s ideas. Responses can be used for encouragement, validation, redirection, or to provide context.

Example: Your answer is a little vague. Can you say it in a different way?

There are other methods of questioning that may be useful in mentoring, such as probing, rhetorical, or process questioning. Ultimately, it’s up to both participants to decide how best to use questioning to build the relationship and gain the knowledge they need to reach the program goals.  

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.

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Web Worthy: This Week's Mentoring Roundup Series

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The growing buzz around the importance of mentoring in business is catching on. People are talking. From esteemed business platforms like Bloomberg Business to leading news outlets like The Huffington Post, mentoring is gaining an expanding audience.

Why are so many major corporations talking about mentoring? MentorCloud CEO Ravi Gundlapalli says that "mentoring is the best thing since sliced bread." The biggest lessons for those seeking mentorship seems to be, "Find one, because it's not going to come looking for you." 

Below is a list of recent mentoring stories, curated specially by the MentorCloud team. Check back in next Thursday for more major publications on the topic of mentoring.

Why You Should Be a Mentor by Stephanie Burns via Forbes Woman

The do's and don'ts of an effective mentor by Shannon Schuyler via Fortune

What Should You Look for in a Mentor? by Joseph Kopser via Huff Post Impact

How Many Engineers Does It Take to Inspire a Teenager? by Nick Hutchinson via edSurge

Why mentoring is unlike any other professional relationship by Jenni Luke via Fortune 

 

 

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Web Worthy: This Week's Mentoring Roundup Series

Dollarphotoclub_78812667.jpg

The growing buzz around the importance of mentoring in business is catching on. People are talking. From esteemed business platforms like Bloomberg Business to leading news outlets like The Huffington Post, mentoring is gaining an expanding audience.

Why are so many major corporations talking about mentoring? MentorCloud CEO Ravi Gundlapalli says that "mentoring is the best thing since sliced bread." The biggest lessons for those seeking mentorship seems to be, "Find one, because it's not going to come looking for you." 

Below is a list of recent mentoring stories, curated specially by the MentorCloud team. Check back in next Thursday for more major publications on the topic of mentoring.

4 things your boss won't tell you (but a mentor will) by Penny Herscher via Fortune 

Is mentoring necessary for career advancement? by Teresa Briggs via Fortune 

This Bank of America exec helped create a virtual mentoring program to connect women around the world by Hilary Burns via Bizwomen of The Business Journals

The Most Valuable Lessons I've learned from my mentor by Jessica Mattern via Fast Company

The Rise of the Knowledge Mentor by Dorothy Leonard via CLO Magazine

 

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Profile: The Personality Traits of a Good Mentor

Whether you’re an experienced mentor or taking on a mentee for the first time, you’ll benefit from learning and/or reinforcing certain personality traits that will greatly enhance your mentoring skills. We all have different personalities and attitudes, and both can change over the course of time with experience. Below is a list of some good habits that can be picked up along the way to becoming a better mentor.

The ability to listen: Being a good listener is one of the most important qualities a mentor can possess. It communicates to your mentees that you care about them and value what they have to say. It builds trust by allowing mentees to explain and share issues openly. If a mentee senses that you will listen to him or her without judgment or interruption, they’ll be more likely to share thoughts and opinions they feel strongly about. Listening with patience and understanding will allow you to connect with your mentees on a deeper level.

The ability to empathize: There’s a difference between being sympathetic and being empathetic. Being empathetic to your mentees’ struggles is not just about compassion; rather, it is about personally identifying with the experiences your mentees are going through. Empathy demonstrates that you understand the challenges they face, and that you’ve faced those same challenges in your own career. Showing true empathy will assure mentees that you are concerned with their betterment, and that they have your full support in the career choices they make. The connection forged by empathy can build a mentoring relationship that will sustain for years to come.

The ability to give constructive feedback: Providing constructive feedback to your mentees puts them in a space where they can acknowledge their weak areas. Acknowledgement is the first step in turning those weaknesses into strengths, and your feedback is the catalyst. By evaluating the progress of a mentoring program, you as the mentor can draw conclusions and prepare feedback for your mentees that is designed to challenge them and encourage them to work harder. This trait in a mentor will add more value to mentoring sessions, and will motivate mentees to continually put forth effort to improve.

Maintaining professionalism: Professionalism is a key factor in any mentorship program, because your mentee looks up to you as an experienced individual and expert in your field. By reinforcing expectations, documenting sessions, maintaining time-schedules, giving regular feedback, and holding mentees accountable, you’ll maintain professionalism throughout the relationship and communicate to mentees that you take the program seriously.

Accepting innovative ideas: Your role as a mentor is to be a guide and trusted advisor who never imposes your ideas or biases on your mentees. A mentor must be open to new and innovative ideas shared by their mentees. This is especially applicable for mentors in a startup where entrepreneurs are bubbling with ideas. If you don’t understand an idea or don’t believe in its feasibility, then it’s your job to clarify by asking questions and to clearly outline your reservations. Your goal is not to discourage ideas that are unfamiliar to you, but to motivate mentees into explaining how they would make them work.

Sharing skills and knowledge without hesitation: An ideal mentor does not see his/her mentee as a competitor or a threat. Your job is to help your mentees grow, which means you must be willing to share essential professional and personal skills. By giving mentees an opportunity to learn from the knowledge you have gained, you are giving them an advantage that perhaps you never had in your career, and that is extremely rewarding.

Staying positive: As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Likewise, mentoring cannot produce great results overnight. It takes patience, commitment, and perseverance to give mentees the time they need to grow and learn. Even though challenges may arise and frustrations may brew, it helps to stay positive and maintain a cool head. Your actions and words in this regard will teach mentees the value of maintaining a positive attitude.

Mentors who possess these traits will have consistent success with their mentorships. Write them down on a piece of paper and return to it on a regular basis to check in and make sure you're constantly exhibiting these traits in your mentorships. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.


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Web Worthy: This Week's Mentoring Roundup Series

The growing buzz around the importance of mentoring in business is catching on. People are talking. From esteemed business platforms like Bloomberg Business to leading news outlets like The Huffington Post, mentoring is gaining an expanding audience.

Why are so many major corporations talking about mentoring? MentorCloud CEO Ravi Gundlapalli says that "mentoring is the best thing since sliced bread." The biggest lessons for those seeking mentorship seems to be, "Find one, because it's not going to come looking for you." 

Below is a list of recent mentoring stories, curated specially by the MentorCloud team. Check back in next Thursday for more major publications on the topic of mentoring.

Mentoring Entrepreneurs: Tough Love and the Truth featuring Endeavor CEO and founder Linda Rottenberg via Bloomberg Surveillance 

5 Things to Look for in Your Next Incredible Mentor by Christina Desmarais via Inc.

Shark Tank's Lori Greiner on the Importance of Mentorship by Carly Okyle via Entrepreneur 

If You Think You Don't Need a Mentor, Think Again by Zenaida Lorenzo via Huff Post Women

Reverse Mentoring - Investing in Tomorrow's Business Strategy by Joshua Steimle via Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot or Cold? Taking the Temperature of Your Mentorship Program

Throughout the course of a mentorship program, mentors will need to perform evaluations. The purpose of evaluations can differ depending on when a mentor decides to administer them, but the overall goal is to access the effectiveness of the program.

Evaluations performed early on are a means of pinpointing specific goals and determining if objectives have been set appropriately. A pause mid-program aims to expose any weaknesses in the relationship and determine if sufficient progress is being made towards target outcomes. Both of these scenarios allow mentors to make adjustments intended to strengthen the mentorship and keep it on course.

Finally, assessments made at the tail end or culmination of the relationship give mentors and mentees an opportunity to return to the initial objectives set for the program and evaluate them based on adjustments made over the course of the relationship and how much progress was made.

Regardless of when evaluations are conducted, it’s important that both mentors and mentees maintain an open mind. The process will be successful only if both parties are willing to accept and learn from the feedback they receive.

The format of evaluation is up to you. Mentors can gauge the progress of a mentorship by administering formal questionnaires or conducting informal feedback sessions. It can be as simple as meeting over a cup of coffee and going over the original intentions set for the relationship. The most important thing is that you plan the session to achieve maximum benefit. To do that, you need to make sure you have a plan.

Creating a planned evaluation program is simple. The essential elements are to create an intention and determine how you will measure success. Here are a few tips to help you in your planning:

  • Set a purpose for the evaluation program. If you plan to conduct multiple sessions, make sure both you and your mentee understand the goal for each session.
  • Decide how you will track goals and objectives. This should be part of your overall mentorship plan and will be especially useful when it comes time to scrutinize your progress.
  • Determine how you will collect evaluation data. You may devise a system of your own or opt to use survey software.
  • Incorporate worksheets for program planning and interaction during sessions. These will be useful for prompting feedback and recording lessons learned.

You can probably think of even more elements that are important to a strong evaluation program. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to bend the rules. Every mentee is different and responds to feedback in different ways. Use what you learn about your mentee to determine how best to assess their satisfaction of the program and whether or not they are getting what they wanted out of your relationship. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.


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Tune in: The Importance of Listening in Mentoring

There is a famous saying that goes, “One who listens need not say much." Listening is an essential quality of a good mentor.

A mentor must understand, interpret, evaluate, and then react to what a mentee is saying. This calls for mentors to be great listeners. The power of listening can benefit mentors and mentees in sharing knowledge and learning more about each other.  A mentor who listens with patience will be more effective in their role by being approachable and liked by many. 

Why?

  • When mentors patiently listen to their mentees, they’ll better understand the emotions weaved into the conversation. This in turn helps mentors prepare suitable mentoring programs. Responses like “I believe you seek more motivation,” “You sound very discouraged,” or “We need to create a balance in work and life” make mentees feel better connected to their mentors.
  • The quality of being a good listener is very helpful for a mentor in an organization where mentoring programs are a regular practice. The greater the number of people in an organization, the tougher it becomes to connect with all of them equally. Listening becomes a great way to understand areas of concern for the group and mentors can design program activities geared towards solving them. 

There are a few tips that can help mentors become better listeners:

  1. Create a no-diversion atmosphere: Mentors must listen to mentees in the same way they would like to be listened to. Mentors can promote this by creating an atmosphere with no diversion, undivided attention, and honest conversation. The more a mentor is open to listening, the more a mentee will be comfortable in sharing.
  2. Specific conduct in program sessions: If mentors present themselves as listeners, mentees are encouraged to talk during the program sessions. For example, if a mentor is asked questions in a written format, he/she should read the questions carefully, seek clarity for unclear parts, and prepare an answer. By paying attention to specific questions asked of them, mentors are in a better position to understand the problem. If lots of questions are asked in a session, a mentor should take some time to answer each one of them and not hurry. If some questions require more time, mentors can address these after the session. Remember, a question can be irrelevant but not unimportant.
  3. Ask questions using the right words: Even mentors need answers to understand their mentees. When constructing questions, mentors should stay focused, clear, and stick to the subject. They should use the right words directed towards gaining helpful answers. Mentoring relationships are sensitive and evolving, so it’s important to maintain clear communication to avoid incorrect judgments and assumptions.
  4. Maintain an unbiased approach: A good mentor listens to not just one side of a situation, but all sides. He/she takes a 360-degree view and attempts to understand their mentee by putting themselves in their mentee’s shoes.
  5. Body language is the key: Half a mentor’s job is done if their gestures indicate undivided attention to their mentees. Physical actions like leaning in, nodding, making eye contact, and folding hands are great signals to mentees that their mentor wants to listen, guide, and support the mentee throughout the mentoring process. 

A true mentor will listen to their mentees, make them feel important, and help them achieve their goals. 

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From Start to Finish: Transforming Graduates Into Entrepreneurs

The argument for taking the reins of your career in your own hands (i.e. becoming an entrepreneur) rather than signing on with a big corporation is becoming more and more convincing. Just this week, an article in The Huffington Post entitled “Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Entrepreneur” encouraged college graduates to “start their own companies and be masters of their own destinies,” or, at the very least, to join a startup working on something they believe in.

Today’s mobile market, along with easy access to advanced technology and global audiences, means that starting a business is more accessible today than it ever has been before. And people are starting to pay attention. Conversations about entrepreneurship are becoming more common. Gone are the days when recent graduates would automatically seek out corporate employment immediately after college. Instead, they’re weighing their options.

In "Mentoring: An Entrepreneur's Ticket to Startup Success," we talked about the importance of mentorship to running a successful startup. In an age of entrepreneurship, aspiring businessmen and women are going to need mentors more than ever. Traditional employment at a big company often comes with programs and resources designed to help employees succeed. It’s common for a company workforce to have access to resources like internal and external training, workshops, cross-training, brainstorming sessions, seminars and conferences, human resources, and career advice.

But when you’re venturing out on your own, it’s up to you to find the resources you’ll need to reach your goals. If you’ve never worked in business before and have only your education to draw from, this can be a daunting task.

The solution is to find someone who’s been there, and then ask him or her to teach you everything they know. In other words, find a mentor, maybe even two.

In order to start a business, you’ll need to learn things like how to build a brand, how to market your product or service, how to allocate resources, how to design a business model, and how to take risks, among other things. The chances of finding one person who possesses all the knowledge you’ll need to be a successful entrepreneur are slim, so don’t limit yourself to just one mentor.

Your mentors don’t all have to be entrepreneurs, either. Certainly you should seek guidance from someone who can help you navigate the uncertain waters of starting your own company, but you can also gain valuable knowledge from people who have expertise in other areas important to running a business, like marketing, finance, sales, and human resources. The more you know about the inner workings of a business, the more successful you’ll be in running your own.

Entrepreneurship is becoming a realistic alternative to employment for today’s graduates. More and more schools are incorporating entrepreneurship programs into their course offerings, and the plethora of organizations, workshops, books, and start-ups geared toward supporting entrepreneurship—both online and offline—means that aspiring entrepreneurs have access to more tools and resources than ever before. Pair all of this with the proper guidance, as well as a hefty dose of dedication and hard work, and you’ll be on your way to realizing your dreams of starting a business you’re proud to put your name on. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.

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