Being a mentee is a wonderful experience if your mentor is actively listening to what you say, shares personal experience and provides honest feedback. Someone, who doesn't tell you what to do, but helps you find the path yourself. Lots can go wrong in such a relationship, but it begins with having someone providing the opportunity to be mentored. This is where the Google Mentor Development Program comes into place:
About the program
"The Women Techmakers Mentor Development Program is a 5-week virtual program designed to empower women in tech to pursue mentorship opportunities through in-depth mentorship coaching, experience, and direct mentorship opportunities.
I was fortunate to take part in that program. Despite me being unable to grow a long, gray beard I say "I am a Mentor" with confidence now. I want to share the main aspects I apply to my mentoring sessions that help make the sessions a success for both sides.
Achieving the overall goal of making the mentee figure out the answers highly depends on the questions you are using. Keep the following rules in mind when preparing the session.
The most important part is asking good questions
If you want to help your mentee figure out the solution to problems they are facing or the next step on the path on their own, you have to make them reflect by asking good questions. Don't worry, I'll provide qualitative example questions, but let's figure out the problems first:
"Why was it hard for you to face the situation?"
The reasoning behind things is important to understand, but using the word WHY can feel judgemental and should be used with caution.
"Do you want to achieve XYZ?"
The answer to this can be a short yes or no. We want to encourage dialogue - Open questions can help to do so. Avoid closed questions starting with WHO and WHEN make use of WHAT and HOW instead.
How do I use questions in my mentoring sessions
I am collecting relevant questions in a file. Before starting a Mentoring session I go ahead and choose a subset, often having the topic in mind the mentee wants to discuss with me. That way I can pick them up whenever I want to make my mentee think or change the direction of the session.
Structure of a mentoring session
There are recurrent points which a mentoring session should contain. I use them as a guideline to structure mine and to make sure all important parts are covered. For each anchor, I listed example questions you can use to make your mentee think about their steps in the context of the TGROW model:
It is important to figure out what the TOPIC of the session is going to be. It helps me to prepare the resources I want to share and sets a direction for the session.
What's the agenda for today? Which area of your career would you like to talk about?
Everyone has different GOALS for a specific area.
What do you want to achieve? How could you make this goal more specific? What would you do if you could not fail?
The goals can differ, depending on your experience on a specific topic. We need to figure out the place our mentee is currently at and do a REALITY check.
What's happening now? How do other people experience you in that area?
This area is an essential one: We want to find different OPTIONS for achieving the goals. It can contain actions you yourself took in the past or others who you know from your network.
What would be the most radical thing you could do? Have you ever tried an alternative approach?
Last but not least we need to choose the proper steps for the future and determine which option(s) your mentee is WILLing to take. It should be a commitment to take the steps and to track progress on them.
If you'd break this into smaller parts, what steps do you need to take to reach your goal? What will you do within the next month? What is your plan for achieving these goals?
Mentoring sessions should not only be an open talk about some generic subject, instead you should carve out the topic. As soon as you define the goals your mentee aims for, you should perform a reality check to find out where your mentee is at. What are the options to actually target these objectives and which steps the mentee will take.
Achieving the overall goal of making the mentee figure out the answers highly depends on the questions you are using. Keep the above-mentioned rules in mind when preparing the session.
In addition, I'd like to suggest another step and extend it to a TGROWF framework:
Collect FEEDBACK. Mentoring is a two-sided relationship and you commit to making it a good experience for your mentee.
How satisfied are you with the findings of today's session? Is there anything you'd like me to do differently in the future?
You'll be surprised by what you get in return.