Managing Mentoring Challenges
No matter how long you've been a mentor, there will be challenges and situations that are new to you. Consider the following tips on how to manage these situations.
Mentoring across differences: race, culture, gender, and generation:
- Make no assumptions:
- Resist viewing each other as part of a category based on gender, race, age, or other characteristics.
- Have an open discussion about cultural differences:
- Have a basic level of respect for differences and the value of understanding and appreciating differences.
- After time, there may be sufficient comfort to discuss differences in gender, culture, and generation.
- Understand culturally different values:
- Be willing to learn about your mentee's world and be open to his/her perspective.
- Publicly support the mentee:
- Invite mentee as a colleague to meetings and events.
- Introduce mentee to colleagues and peers.
- Coach mentee in graceful self-promotion.
Maintaining effective communication and giving constructive feedback is key to establishing a good relationship with your mentee.
- Ask clear questions to understand the mentee's experience, assessment of the situation, and point of view.
- Use specific, non-judgmental, descriptive language:
- Use "I" statements. Give examples from your experience.
- Focuses on specific behaviors, areas for growth, development and enhancement.
- Acknowledge outside factors that may contribute.
- Reassure mentee strengths and assets.
- Ensure understanding by summarizing.
- Give the other person an opportunity to ask questions or share their viewpoint.
- Allow time and privacy for feedback.
- Avoid or minimize distractions, set aside an uninterrupted time for your feedback session.
- Try not to interrupt when the other person is responding.
- Ask questions that will lead to self-reflection:
- What is a step you can take to reach your desired outcome?
- What are some ways you can address this challenge?
- What resources are available to you?
- What can I do to help you?
Problem-solving strategies are useful in any situation. When the mentoring relationship needs improvement, both mentor and mentee have the responsibility to have an open conversation regarding this.
- Early intervention is important.
- Identify an appropriate space and time for discussion.
- Specify needs clearly.
- Be flexible in ways of handling the problem.
- Develop a solution that works for both the mentor and the mentee.
- Transparency on both sides is important.