5 Common Mentoring Mistakes You Need to Avoid in Your Next Session

In this article, we explore the common mentoring mistakes people make and how you can avoid them.

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Mentoring is an extraordinarily powerful and influential tool that can completely transform the lives of the mentor and mentee. From enhanced confidence and improved mental health to the opportunity to learn new skills, there are some incredible benefits associated with mentoring. We all should have a mentoring relationship at least once in our lives, either as a mentor or as a mentee, just to understand the power it holds.

However, when it comes to mentoring or building any professional relationship, there are things we should and shouldn’t do to make the relationship as effective and trusting as possible. Listed below are our top 5 mistakes you should be avoiding in your next mentoring relationship:

1. Not Setting Goals

With any type of learning, goals are an incredibly important step of the process. Mentors and mentees need to work together to set S.M.A.R.T goals to be able to effectively measure the success of the relationship. This should be done at the very first mentoring session, with the mentee and mentor setting both long and short-term goals, delving deeper into what the mentee is looking to achieve from the relationship.

When it comes to mentoring, every relationship is different, so goals can vary but some of the most common ones are mentees looking to achieve is learning a new skill or gaining a promotion. There are many goals the mentee and mentor can work together to achieve.

Setting goals is also an incredibly essential step in the design process of a mentoring relationship, with the setting of goals meaning that the sessions are designed around achieving them. By having clear goals in place, the tone of the discussion can be set whilst allowing for the mentor and mentee to plan their sessions effectively.

2. Not Setting Expectations and Defining the Commitment Required

This is a common mistake made by mentees and mentors because many individuals don’t recognise the significance of setting expectations in place. As mentioned, setting goals is an important factor in the mentoring process, but it’s just as important for mentors and mentees to figure out how each person plans to commit to the relationship.

It’s crucial to have a transparent conversation on how the relationship will work, from the number of meetings that will take place and the time each person needs to commit to where the meetings will take place. Mentoring looks different to each person, and so setting expectations allows for a mutual agreement to be made, without the mentor or mentee feeling disappointed.

By doing so, mentors can determine if the relationship is right for them and give the mentee the engagement they need to achieve their goals.

3. Betraying Confidentiality and Trust

What happens in a mentoring session, should stay in a mentoring session. Breaking the trust and confidentiality of your mentor or mentee is something that should never be done. Being able to have transparent conversations is key to a healthy and successful mentoring relationship, with the trust only being able to develop when each participant is able to have genuine conversations without critique and fear.

When trust is broken in a mentoring relationship, it can be hard for the mentor or mentee to open up again, doubting intentions and feeling the need to hide their true weaknesses. This is particularly important in workplace mentoring programs because it’s a common concern for most people that what they say in private will be shared around the workplace.

4. Talking Too Much or Too Little

The purpose of a mentoring relationship is to have open discussions to help the mentee succeed and develop, on both a personal and professional level. Whilst in most cases, the mentor has more experience in their field, it’s crucial that each mentoring session is a back-and-forth conversation, which provokes insightful and knowledgeable discussions. People believe that the mentor needs to do all the talking, but this isn’t the case. Mentoring relationships are meant to create a space where sincere exchanges can be held, and both members can provide their input.

This also applies to talking too little during sessions, whilst some people may find it daunting to open up to a new person, for the relationship to blossom, conversations need to be held. A good mentoring relationship requires communication skills as much as it does listening skills.

5. Being Critical and Not Constructive

When it comes to mentoring, it should be noted that participants should only offer constructive feedback and not be critical. This is a common misunderstanding made by individuals because they have never learned how to offer effective feedback. Mentoring is all about helping each other develop and grow, with the role of a good mentor being to focus on areas of improvement and character flaws, without being too negative. The same applies to the mentee, who should offer feedback to their mentor in regard to how the relationship is developing, constructive criticism will help the relationship improve, and the mentor will be able to enhance their mentoring skills.

A mentoring relationship should be based on trust, with both the mentor and mentee feeling comfortable sharing ideas and insights, without feeling they are being judged. Before entering a mentoring relationship, either as a mentor or mentee, we suggest researching how to offer constructive feedback.

Final Thoughts

We should all aim to have a successful mentoring relationship and whilst we’re only human and will make mistakes in our lives, the advice above should be of value during your next relationship.

If you want to learn more about mentoring or become a member of our open network, where there are over 85,000 members looking to mentor and be mentored, visit PushFar today.

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