Human Resources, Mentoring

Challenging Your Mentee

Mentorship relationships are sometimes pursued simply for the sake of having a mentorship relationship. This is the fault of both mentors and mentees, who often choose to enter into such a relationship far too casually. Maybe it’s an expectation of the company they work for. Maybe it’s because someone asked them to be their mentor and they thought, “Why not?” In today’s issue, one strategy for solidifying a mentorship.

Whatever the reason for a struggling mentor relationship, moving ahead it’s important to be active and deliberate in working together. Mentors, in particular, are in a critical place to positively impact the relationship—and the outcomes from the relationship—for both themselves and their mentees.

In an article by John Brandon for Inc. titled, “6 Strategies to Mentor More Effectively,” Brandon explains one of his own techniques for mentoring: “One strategy I’ve used with those I’m mentoring is to assign a fairly difficult task to complete—something that will require my involvement. I don’t see mentoring as just a weekly chat. It’s an ongoing relationship and one that should always be moving toward a specific goal. It has to be intentional and specific, not vague and by the seat of your pants. Keep track of the task together and use it as a teaching aid.”

Here are a few benefits of this approach.

Encourages the Mentee to Seek Help

Part of a mentorship relationship is providing the mentee with a resource that has experience, connections, and skills. When faced with a daunting challenge, a mentee will learn to trust and reach out to his mentor for assistance, thereby strengthening the relationship.

Exposes the Mentee to Real-World Challenges

There’s no point in coddling a mentee. One of the reasons many people seek out a mentor is to advance their career, and a great way to do that is to develop the necessary skills to tackle difficult challenges.

Builds Confidence When the Task Is Achieved

Even when relying on a mentor for guidance and assistance, being faced with, and then overcoming, a difficult task is a great way to build confidence in mentees. At some point, mentees will then be more likely to feel confident enough to take on such tasks on their own—and also have the confidence to tackle new, and increasingly difficult, challenges.

Mentoring is about more than just networking and making friends with people. A mentoring relationship that contains a strong teaching element and challenges the mentee with difficult tasks can be extremely beneficial. What relevant challenges could you provide to your mentees?

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