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The three ingredients of effective mentoring

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As both a professional coach and mentor I am constantly asking myself ‘what makes a good coaching or mentoring session?’

While I believe the best person to answer that question is the client, and it will be different for every client every time, it is also important that we are self-aware and have the ability to assess whether we are delivering effective mentoring to our clients.

While there are many factors that contribute to a great mentoring session, here are my top three key ingredients:

Building rapport between mentor and mentee

First and foremost a great mentoring relationship is one where the mentee trusts and respects the mentor, but at the same time feels understood and not judged. If rapport is present dialogue will seem easy and even enjoyable, which allows the mentee to talk openly about their fears and shortcomings, as well as their strengths.

But rapport shouldn’t be taken for granted. It can take effort to build and only comes when the mentor puts their own judgements aside and steps inside the mentee’s shoes to really learn what is important to them and understand how they view the world.

Creating an environment for reflection

A mentoring session where the mentor imparts their own ideas and solutions will do little more than give the mentee some short term solutions to their immediate challenges. But what happens when a different challenge arises?

Will they have learned to think for themselves or will they put the challenge on hold until they have spoken with their mentor again? Developing long term capability and confidence involves questioning to help the mentee think through challenges themselves, come up with their own solutions and take responsibility for choosing a course of action.

Deepening self-awareness

Helping the mentee take action is great, but long-term development will only happen if the conversation includes discussion on their own motivation and behaviour. How do you make them aware of their strengths, areas for development, what is important to them, and what impact they have on others?

Mentors should encourage mentees to reflect on their own strengths and areas for development, acting as a mirror to reflect back what they see. How a mentee ‘shows up’ in their coaching session is likely to be a reflection of how they operate in their working life.

How well prepared were they for their session? Were they on time? What is the impact of their speech and body language having on you? Feeding this back to the mentee can have a profound impact on their learning – after all, they may never have been made aware of this before.

Find out more

Boost Business Lancashire offers a growth mentoring programme matching business owners with experienced entrepreneurs. To apply for a place on the programme, complete our online form or call 0800 488 0057.


Louise Yates, owner of Clear Perspectives Ltd and a mentor for Community & Business Partners’ Growth Mentoring Programme.

To find our more email Louise at: louise@clear-perspectives.co.uk


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