Coaching and mentoring can be a daunting task in a fast paced startup environment where one is focused on getting things done. However, participating in honing other people’s skills turned out to be quite a learning experience for me. While the method of approaching it can differ, it is a no-brainer that it’s one of those unique skills that will make you stand out and embark on a journey of self-growth as well as sprucing up your management skills. It is essentially a very good attrition control tool, since when an employee feels that their self-growth is valuable to the company, they tend to stay longer, enjoy their work and are more productive.
To avoid mentoring become that point in your To Do list which has been lying there for several months, thus comes in effective mentoring programs. Here are a few pointers I picked up on my journey of entrepreneurship and working in startups.
1. Spot that one unique thing
Each one in your team was hired because of the unique capabilities that they bring to the table celebrating diversity, and therefore the learning styles may differ. Some people learn better on a one on one session, some people are better hands – on learners. Some stages of career require the mentee to focus on developing their soft skills like communication , leadership while some of your other mentees might need to focus on specific skills like learning a software etc. As a mentor, always focus on spotting learning styles and teach.
2. Keep your third eye open
Good coaching and mentoring are all about timing and keen observation. Making sure advice is given when the mentee is ready to receive it. Become a keen observer of body language, latent distress signals and respond accordingly. Its tough at first but later will become second nature.
3. The KISS methodology
Remember the chief guest in school and those humongous long speeches? Now, just do the reverse.
KISS is a methodology which stands for ‘Keep it Short and Simple’. As a mentor, it is essential to give clear pointers and inputs. Start with clearly stating the focus of the conversation, then state the takeaways that the mentee can walk out with.
4. Keep it human and integrate fun
Mentoring programs needn’t be boring and drab. Make it a fun experience by fusing it with activities that you both like doing. Like walking? Why not hold the discussion talking a walk ? Or if you are both movie buffs , why not pull out advises from a brilliant movie?
5. Let’s work together
So, you think your mentee needs to learn to be more systemized? Why not outsource that excel sheet lying pending in your things to do? There is no harm in the relation being symbiotic. Your protege will learn while doing the task and will be keen to perform well. You might end up redoing it, but it was nevertheless worth a shot. I am a big fan of learning by doing and as a mentor, i am interested in my students’ performance whenever they have entrusted a task which was important and seemed difficult to do.
6. Maximize your social media time
Coaching and mentoring take prep time. For early stage managers, it may seem like an additional work. However, you could make this fun by maximizing your social media hour . There are several events that are happening in the city, which can be relevant for your mentee. Push him/her to attend it. Found a blog which sheds more light on the discussion you guys last had? Share it with your mentee.
7. Be a walking example
Lastly and often the most difficult out of all – practice what you preach. Seeing a mentor who doesn’t imbibe his own piece of advice in daily life can demotivate you to the core. If you want your team to push harder, you need to be an enthusiastic person yourself. Remember, it takes time to earn people’s respect and the role of a mentor requires it to be successful.
For me, it is a pleasure to run a mentoring program for the design team, with every day bringing fresh learnings to inculcate in our work culture and schedule. If you have some alternative, wacky ways of mentoring, do share them in the comments section below!
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