Imagine you have chosen a mentor. You have had an informal meeting and initially agreed to meet for three sessions. You have set the first date and told the mentor you will flag-up beforehand some of the topics you want to explore during the meeting.
Here are three suggestions for making the most of the actual sessions.
1) You can prepare properly for the session.
Start by brainstorming the actual topics you want to discuss with your mentor. For example: How to manage a difficult person in your team; how to lead a team to success; how to take the next step in your career or whatever.
Do some pre-work on tackling each of the topics. You can do this by going through the 5C model that is often employed in mentoring sessions.
Many mentors use this model as a basis for helping people to find creative solutions to challenges. You can find the framework at the end of this article.
The mentor's role is to create a stimulating sanctuary. It is then to help you to explore your challenges, choices, consequences, creative solutions and conclusions.
Prepare properly by working through each of the challenges, but also leave scope for exploring these further with your mentor. Give them time to prepare by emailing the topics you want to discuss a few days before the session. Relax and look forward to the meeting.
2) You can make good use of the session by using the 5C Model and learning from the mentor.
Start by getting the ‘social part’ right and again thank the mentor for setting aside time in their diary. Repeat the topics you want to explore and what you want to ‘take away’ from the session. Ensure you make clear contracts about the agenda.
The 5C Model
As mentioned earlier, the mentor may well use the 5C Model for helping you to tackle your chosen topic. They will start by making you feel welcome.
They may then ask some of the following questions. Share the work you have already done at each stage of the model.
Ask the mentor to share any tools, knowledge, models, experience or ideas they may have for helping to achieve the goals. Listen and learn.
Show that you are taking the ideas on-board, because your mentor may also require encouragement! But remember that you are in charge of the session. So, if things go off-track, get the session back on course.
Continue until you have got enough ideas and tools for tackling the first challenge. Build-in time during the session to reflect on:
* What I have learned so far.
* What I want to cover in the rest of the session.
Move onto the next challenge, repeat the process and continue until you have completed the agenda.
3) You can clarify what you have learned, thank the mentor and set-up the next session.
Finish the session in a positive way. Explain the ideas you have taken-away and, if appropriate, how you plan to translate these into action.
Mentors like to pass-on knowledge that helps people to succeed. So you will probably find that describing your ‘take aways’ will be satisfying for the mentor. Thank the mentor again and set-up the next session.
As mentioned earlier, here the framework you can use to do some pre-work on one of the challenges. You can follow this when working with a mentor or simply add it to your own repertoire for creative problem-solving.