If you’ve been considering becoming a mentor, you should think about what you want to get out of the relationship, because mentoring is not about managing, it’s about guiding, according to Gayle Fitzpatrick, a mentor with Raise Foundation.
“It’s not about giving the answers, it’s about empowering the mentee to come to their own conclusions. It’s not about judgement, it’s about talking through the subject and discussing multiple perspectives that will enable the mentee to decide what resonates.
“I think mentorship is a crucial element of managing staff and being a part of the Raise Foundation has enabled me to become a better manager and trainer,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
- Listen … really listen.
Ms Fitzpatrick, who currently mentors a teenager at school through the Raise Foundation, said her biggest tip is to listen to understand, rather than a reply.
“A lot of these children coming into the program just need someone to hear them.
“A lot of the time, we listen to respond, rather than to listen to understand, and people need to feel that they are understood, especially if you are tackling sensitive or delicate topics.
“You need a mentor you can trust if you are going to open up to them and we can’t expect trust to be established if we aren’t willing to listen to each other,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
- Don’t Exert Authority.
“We often think, as we progress in life and through our careers, that we only have things to teach rather than things to learn.
“I think it’s important to understand that, as a manager or a mentor, people that are younger than us or that don’t have as much professional or life experience, can still teach us things.
“Being a good mentor is not exerting your authority, it is as much learning from the mentee as it is guiding them.
“During my first year as a mentor with the Raise Foundation, my mentee, an incredible 15-year-old girl, taught me a lot about myself and how I can grow as a person … much more than I think she will ever know!
“We went on that journey together, and I will always hold that experience dear in my heart,” said Ms Fitzpatrick,
- Management Isn’t Mentoring
As Head of Marketing for a property company, Ms Fitzpatrick manages staff but is not fond of the term manager, preferring leadership and mentoring.
“Mentoring is about guiding, not managing.
“Not everyone thrives under management or, worse, micro-management.
“They can only really flourish when they have the right guidance. And that guidance is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it has to be adapted to the person and the environment at that moment in time.
“Even the same person will need a different kind of guidance at different times, depending on a whole heap of different factors.”
- Mentoring is Empowerment.
Mentoring is about empowering the mentee to come to their own conclusions, explained Ms Fitzpatrick.
“When I train my staff, I refuse to give them the answers to a lot of their questions.
“Instead, I ask them a series of questions that allows them to come to the answer themselves.
“It’s not always an easy or quick process, but when they arrive at the answer, they have done it on their own and, when you are early on in your career like a lot of my staff are when they join the company, that can be a huge confidence boost.
“It gives them the means to make their own decisions. It also means that they can come to a conclusion that hasn’t been nudged in a particular direction by our own perceptions or agendas,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
- Mentors Must be Impartial!
When talking through a scenario or problem in a mentor and mentee relationship, there is no room for judgement, explained Ms Fitzpatrick.
“It takes a while to build the rapport needed for a successful relationship.
“That rapport needs to be treated delicately as it could be easy to damage and difficult to repair, especially if your mentee is vulnerable, as with some of the children in the program for the Raise Foundation.
“At the start of the relationship, it’s important to set boundaries and some expectations, such as confidentiality and limitations.
“You are both then responsible for sticking to them.
Mentoring is Life-Changing for Mentee and Mentor
“I think it’s important to remember that you’re making a positive difference in someone’s life.
“I think back to some of the mentors I have had, both personally and professionally, and some of them probably weren’t even aware of the long-lasting impact they have made on me.
“It’s also important to remember that we all have the opportunity to mentor anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t have to be in an official capacity.
“Everything we do and say, all of our reactions to the things that happen to us, they’re all noticed by someone and can all have an impact on those around us.
“For that reason, we should always be striving to be our best selves. The reward I get from mentoring is one of the most powerful I have felt to date,” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
If you’ve been thinking about mentoring, consider an online professional development course to gain the skills and knowledge required to set the foundations for a successful partnership.
The Certificate of Coaching and Mentoring with Australian Online Courses will help you to develop the skills to support and sustain improved performance by others.
This online course will help you to develop a professional mentoring relationship with a learner, in particular, an apprentice or trainee employed by, or undertaking a work placement in, a workplace.
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To find out more, contact one of our friendly Learning Consultants today on 1300 762 221 or via Live Chat.
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