In celebration of National Mentoring Day, accredited coach and mentor, David Eaton, CAMHS Service Manager at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, shares his top tips for the first meeting of a mentor and mentee.
Becoming a mentor can be hugely rewarding, helping to advance your career and someone else’s. If you're new to mentoring or want to get the best out of your mentoring relationship, see David's ten habits of a successful mentor:
1. It's a match As a mentor, it’s important to know if you and your mentee are a good match. Use your first meeting with your mentee to get to know each other and get a sense of whether this is the right match for both of you.
2. Clear expectations Have an open discussion about what you can expect to achieve in the time you have together. Find out what your mentee wants from the relationship and decide if this is something you can work on together.
3. Set goals but be flexible Agree some overall goals for the mentoring relationship at the beginning, and some specific objectives for each time you meet. This will help to see the progress being made. Decide to have an agenda for each meeting, but don’t make it too rigid. Allow time for your mentee to share other concerns that may have come up since you last met.
4. Focus on the positive outcomes Your mentee may be having a specific problem or feels stuck. When discussing their challenges, remember to ask about their strengths and successes as well as areas they want to improve on. Try to frame things positively and focus on what they are good at.
5. Remember to actively listen Having someone to talk freely to, is one of the biggest benefits of having a mentor. Often, your mentee will already know what they want to do to solve a problem or move forward, they just need space to talk it through. Actively listening, and making sure your mentee feels heard, is one of the most important and powerful aspects of your role.
6. Remember your boundaries Being a mentor at work, is not about being a counsellor or best friend. Don’t pressure yourself into discussing areas you don’t feel comfortable with or aren’t qualified to tackle. Instead, find out where you can signpost your mentee to for extra support if they need it. You can contract for this at the beginning of the relationship so if issues do come up you have agreed a way of dealing with them.
7. Keep reviewing Ahead of each meeting, ask your mentee to let you know what they want to discuss. And after your meeting, ask them to give you feedback with any learning and action points.
8. Avoid putting yourself in the role of expert You have expertise but you don’t need to have an answer to every question, or solution to every problem. It’s a collaborative relationship, where the mentee beings their own expertise to the relationship. Encourage your mentee to find their own solutions by reflecting back what they say, asking powerful questions and sharing your experiences appropriately.
9. Share resources Share with your mentee useful resources books, events, websites or forums. If you know people that may be helpful and you feel it’s appropriate, put them in touch with your contacts and colleagues.
10. Enjoy it! Being a mentor brings new insight into your own work and challenges. Learn from your mentee who will come up with approaches and ideas you won’t have thought of and have fun in the process.
NHS North West Leadership Academy Hub offers NHS mentors, mentees, coaches and coachees a platform to connect, match and continue their leadership journey.