Organisational Development

Sharing experiences

Mentors enable mentees to come up with their own solutions and ideas. Learn more about how this is done.

Provide support not direction

It can be tempting to direct mentees towards solutions that have worked for you, especially when they are experiencing challenges similar to those that you have experienced. However, the ideas and solutions that will be most appropriate to the mentee will be those that they generate for themselves.

As a mentor, it is your role to support the mentee in developing their own ideas and solutions through rapport building, active listening, effective questioning and constructive feedback.

The following three steps are good rules of thumb:

Listen without judgement

Give your mentee space to outline the whole issue. However tempted you are to offer a solution, hold back. Jumping in too early might mean that you miss some vital information. Often just the act of articulating an issue out loud is enough to provide clarity for the mentee.

Ask questions

Try to draw ideas out of your mentee using insightful questions rather than immediately offering solutions. Use brainstorming techniques to get mentees to generate a range of options that they can select from.

Explore a range of perspectives

Get your mentee to imagine themselves from the perspective of others. Ask them, what would your best friend/colleague/manager say to you?

How to share experiences effectively

Once you’re confident that you have been through steps 1-3 above, it may be appropriate to offer insight into your own experience.

Avoid being directive. Ask the mentee if they would like to hear what you have done previously to overcome a similar situation. In most cases they will say yes, but if they say no, respect that decision and support them in coming up with their own ideas. Going through the other steps might already have generated a solution for the mentee.

Give advice with the caveat that what worked for you might not be the right course of action for your mentee. Only provide advice on subjects on which you are confident. If it is beyond your experience or knowledge, support the mentee to find other sources of advice. Remember that as a mentor you are not expected to have all the answers.

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Organisational Development
Human Resources
Sussex House
T 01273 606755 ext 4806

Dr Nicola Yuill on the skills of good mentors