By Monica O’Neil
When you sing you begin with Do Ray Mi. When you mentor, you can begin with these nine things.
One question I am asked often is “How do I begin mentoring?” Here are a few hints for you, so that you can begin well. Feel free to follow them or ignore them as you need. As you get going you can find further ideas on this website or through the ACMN Facebook page found at https://www.facebook.com/AusCMN/
1. Have a short guide to ‘what mentoring is’ which you have written or endorse. Send it to your mentoree beforehand. You can discuss it with them and craft a shared understanding of what they hope for from the process.
2. It’s okay to have a contract or agreement. This can include a guide around preparation, length of meetings, suitable venues and what to do if you need to shift or cancel an appointment.
3. Spend at least some of the first session discussing your working alliance. Mentoree’s can be nervous about what they don’t know or what might happen in sessions and they will have a few assumptions which may or may not match yours.
4. Spend time listening to the mentorees goals and their reality. This exploration takes a long time and, in my opinion, never finishes in mentoring. Some of the first session and maybe a few of the early sessions may be needed to clarify what you will focus on.
5. Explore options and actions only after a solid listening and exploring time.
6. Review each session as you close. This typically looks like the mentoree summarizing the salient points from the session and noting any actions they are committing to.
7. Arrange when you will first review your mentoring alliance e.g. after 4 sessions or 3 months. The point is to arrange this and then follow through. This helps keep things fresh and focused and also flags that is natural to ‘finish’ the mentoring at some point.
8. Schedule your next appointment and decide the venue.
9. Jot down any notes and store them securely.