If you’re thinking of working with a mentor to take your business forward, or if you want to know if you’re getting the best value from a current mentorship program, then read on. Professional mentors should have your best interests at heart and give you the quality of time and experience that you need and should expect.
The fundamentals of this experience are the three A’s which are outlined in the following article. The three A’s comprise active listening, availability, and analysis. When you work with your mentor you should experience these three A’s working in tandem. If your mentor is professional and well trained you will feel like you’re in safe hands and gain value for your business.
Professional mentorship requires active listening as a foundational approach to serving clients. Active listening is an acquired skill that is not formally taught in school classrooms, but as if it makes up around 45% of communication, perhaps it should be. Active Listening benefits clients because their mentor –
When someone stops talking it can mean several things. It usually means they’re thinking about what to say next, but it could also be reflection or distraction. When a professional mentor stops talking it means they are engaged in active listening. All of their attention is on what you are about to say and they are waiting to respond by drawing on their depth of knowledge and experience.
Guides the Conversation
You will notice that your professional mentor guides the conversation as if sailing a boat. They try to avoid close ended questions and dead ends, instead they look for the open waters of discovery. To do this they use broad queries to suggest possible directions and outcomes for clients. Often it is not the mentors job to offer advice and solutions, rather they facilitate self discovery.
Pays Attention and Offers Feedback
A professional mentor will always employ Active Listening in your sessions, and you will feel the benefits of it even if you are unaware of the action. Nevertheless, you also need to know the mentor is listening and understanding, this is where summary and feedback comes in. Often your mentor will sum up what you say to reassure you they have understood correctly. Quality feedback follows this close attention.
When you work with a professional mentor they will make themselves available in several ways. You will be able to meet up with them in person of course, but you also need to have confidence in their engagement with you – sometimes termed ’emotional availability. Finally, you may require out of hours contact which can be arranged on certain mentor programs.
Needless to say professional mentors are always available for the scheduled session. They will meet you in a formal and professional manner and give you their full concentration for the duration of the session. This is your time, and it’s a chance to pick the brains of some of the most experienced and successful people in your field.
This doesn’t mean your mentor is there as a shoulder to cry on, rather, your professional mentor is there with you in the room. They not only use active listening techniques but they care about your business and it’s outcomes. After all, your success is also theirs. You will notice your mentors emotional availability from the body language they use and their professional conduct.
Out of Hours Contact
Not all mentoring services will offer an out of hours contact service, but some do and this is another example of mentor availability. It might be an email service, or a phone call, at key moments for your business. Out of hours availability is something you can discuss with your mentor, but it’s certainly possible, and can be integral to your success.
Honesty with Diplomacy
With a professional mentor time is limited and you need the most value from the interaction as possible. That’s why professional mentors are trained to answer your question and concerns honestly and with diplomacy. There won’t be any beating around the bush with a professional mentor, they dispense with formalities and target the issue. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s the best mode of analysis.
Your professional business mentor may have a wealth of industry experience, but how up-to-date are they? Are they going to know about the issues and concerns facing a business like yours today? The answer is yes. In order to be an effective mentor they will keep up to date on any industry changes and modify their philosophy and analysis based on changing data.
Objectivity and Fairness
One key component of your mentor’s analysis of you and your business is objectivity and fairness. This is partly why you go to see them, interacting with a professional and experienced mentor takes you out of your own world and helps you see new perspectives, even if those are uncomfortable at first. Seeing your business and projects in new ways is why you establish a mentor-mentee relationship.
Some things are fundamental to mentorship, and the A’s are three of those things. Active listening, availability, and analysis, are what you need from your professional mentor to understand your business better and solve common issues and problems. If you get nothing else from your mentor, you will at least get the three A’s, which is everything you need.
Your professional mentor will engage with you through active listening, which might be unsettling at first since so few people in life use active listening skills. They will make themselves available in three important ways to ensure you get the most value from your time, finally they will offer you some excellent analysis to take your business or project forward.
If you are still unsure of the real world benefits of business mentorship, think of the radical success of some of the business leaders you aspire to be like. The truth is they didn’t scale those lofty heights without the assistance of mentors along the way. A mentor has walked the path before, they know what to look out for and where the shortcuts are.