Mentoring consultations – exchange of opinions, knowledge and experiences
In February, within the 5th cycle of the Creative Mentorship program, the first annual mentoring consultations were held. During this event, the mentors of this cycle had the opportunity to get to know each other better, to share experiences, and also to share with the team and the coach the dilemmas and concerns they have. At the same time, this is also an important moment when we are approaching the halfway point of the program, and it is important for the Creative Mentorship team to have an insight into the work of mentoring pairs so that they can further support them if necessary.
The consultations were held at Nova Iskra with the expert guidance of Marina Delić, coach of Gi Group HR Solutions, a longtime main educational partner of the “Creative Mentorship”. Members of the Creative Mentoring team Dragana Jevtić and Jelena Mihajlov, also offered their support to the mentors. Engaging in the exchange, they jointly came up with some insights potentially significant not only in the context of the “Creative Mentorship” program but also in mentoring relationships in general.
Mentors first had the opportunity to get to know each other better and to recognize some moments of non-verbal communication that can be significant both in the mentoring relationship and in communication in general. From the very beginning, they had the opportunity to think of one of the very important aspects of this kind of relationship that marked these mentoring consultations as a topic, namely, “How do they get set when the mentee has a problem? Do they trust that he is able to cope with the problem with the support of a mentor and can let them solve it themselves rather than “jump in” and solve the problem for him? “. This way, they have jointly reached the starting point that the role of the mentor is first and foremost to enable the process of sharing knowledge and experience with the mentee.
In this context, one of the most important things was the assessment of the extent to which the mentor engages in some matters by also assuming a part of the mentee’s obligations to themselves, and to what extent he allows the process to proceed with his/her support. In this context, Marina Delić encouraged the present mentors to think of three different “intensities” of mentoring support they could provide that relate directly to the measure of responsibility they take on themselves:
Starting from the fact that it is always a challenge to recognize in the mentoring relationship which of these three is, Marina emphasized that all three forms of support are basically positive, but the question is whether they have a positive outcome for the mentee and his further independent work. While the first option, 120% represents too much responsibility that the mentor takes, with diminished mental role and responsibility as well as independence in this process, 80% is less responsibility than necessary, while 100% is ideal because it represents a “giving” position and expectations ”where both parties are ideally represented in their different roles. However, they jointly concluded that “we should be guided by common sense and intuition and that there is no one right answer” – all options are fine if this is right at the moment and mentor, as it is a challenge to be on the ideal 100% even when we are tired, so we can only give 80%, and in other cases, we perform with too much enthusiasm, we give 120%. Following these consultations, one of the mentors emphasized that it is important to her that she received confirmation of her impression that “it is okay to offer our mentee a hands-on approach, and sometimes solely to have a mentoring or advisory role, according to our needs and guided by common sense.”
Through this scale, mentors analyzed various examples of mentoring relationships in which they recognized when they had given “too much” or thought they could have given more and came up with some useful and practical insights that they shared with others:
– “Support means to support the mentee in what is important to her, but at the speed at which she finds it important, not faster than that – I try not to run forward, not to overtake her, but to let her come to herself. I don’t impede on the rhythm and tempo that suits her. ”
– “It is important for me to get my mentee to think about her options but to be her idea, whose development as a mentor I encourage and support.”
– “The key in this process is to ask the right questions to the mentee – the facilitator question ‘How would you do that?’ Leads to 100% and represents a return of responsibility to the mentee.”
– “I believe that my mentee has full potential and I aim to make it go beyond the limits it sets itself!”
The mentors also shared that they always try to listen to their mentee and follow his / her needs rather than assuming what he/she needs and want to make their mentee feel like saying, “I have the courage and strength and knowledge to do it. And I will decide where to apply it – what job, project, goal… but I know I can! ”
The conclusion was that in this process it can help to guide mentors that the right extent of responsibility that the mentor leaves on the mentee is: “Do we give everything or give only a framework” – this is never black and white, but it is important for mentors they try to be the ones to give the frame but let the mentee be the one to fill it.
During the consultations, we touched on another important topic, the changes that occur when it comes to the initial goal set by the mentee at the beginning of this process. Namely, in practice, it often happens that the initial goal that a mentee sets when entering a project in collaboration with a mentor is revised and reformulated. It was important to raise this question for mentors to understand that this is a good process and that on the one hand, it is important for mentees to have a clear direction in which they are heading, as well as well-set goals, and not to follow it blindly but to rethink it, learn in the process, and be open to redefining goals. On one occasion, one of the mentors shared his experience and how great in his view it was a great success for his mentee to have redefined the goal through discussions with him into something more viable, more feasible, but also more necessary.
One of the important insights that some of the mentors shared with others, which is good advice for developing a mentoring relationship, was that it was very important and helpful for them to observe the mentee in his / her workplace – one of the mentors explained the process: “It was very important for me to see the work environment in which he works because it was a great opportunity to see it in practice what we need to work on together. Although such a work process slowed us down temporarily, it actually gave us much better insight and more ambitious goals. ”
The conclusion was that it is very important that, with a great common commitment to mentees and their personal and professional development, which is in the focus, as well as other mentoring programs, we do not neglect mentors in this process. It is very important for the mentor to be in contact with others in the program, to get to know each other better, to exchange views, and to talk about their mentoring experiences in order to encourage and motivate each other. By sharing their experiences, they realize that they are not alone in the dilemmas and concerns they have, but that rather most mentors go through more or less similar situations. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that there is no one right way to develop a mentoring relationship – there are many points in common, but each mentoring relationship is unique, just as the mentoring pairs differ. It is important that there are basic frameworks in which the mentor and mentee need to collaborate, but different options are in order if it suits both the mentor and the mentee because there is no one correct answer in the process.
We should always keep in mind that through this process and mentoring we learn in different ways:
From mentors/mentees – through the exchange of knowledge and experiences;
From experiences – we draw conclusions and gain new insights based on past successes and failures;
By listening to ourselves – recognizing our needs and affinities that we direct further to our future learning and development.
Finally, one of the conclusions that can be particularly significant in the context of the current situation when seeing mentors and mentees live is difficult and limited – although most mentors point out that live meetings mean more to them than online meetings, the introduction of such meetings should be a compromise solution when it cannot be done differently because it is much more important to maintain continuity of meeting with the mentee than to insist on meeting them face to face.