This is Part 5 of our 10-part series on the 10 Key Qualities and Habits of a Highly Effective Mentor. Read Part 4 here.
Now that we know that, first and foremost, mentors are human, and that the most effective ones are invested in the next generation’s success, are self-aware and enthusiastic, positive role-models, and are intentional with their mentoring time, it’s important to note that the best of mentors share their experience rather than just give advice.
Here’s how valuing experience over advice should look like in a successful mentoring partnership.
1. Mentors Share Experiences Rather Than Dictate Actions
Not all mentees are open to hearing that their great idea might need some work, or are even good at taking direction from someone else. Illustrating options by using the mentor’s own experience or putting a positive spin on criticism helps deliver the message in a non-threatening way. Dan Rose, a Partner at Precision Dialogue and a mentor himself, believes in “experience sharing following a Gestalt Language Protocol. It’s non-threatening and non-judgmental. By illustrating what I did in a similar situation, the entrepreneur is able to decide themselves if this approach will work in their situation.”
The Difference Between Advice and Experience
It is important to understand that there is a difference between giving advice and sharing experiences. Advice can be considered as offering guidance or opinion based on what you think is best for someone else. On the other hand, sharing experiences involves exploring different perspectives on a given topic or situation. It is important to note that advice should not be given during a mentoring session; instead, it should be focused on exchanging ideas and discussing different experiences.
2. Mentors Encourage the Exploration of Another Perspective
While mentorship can be valuable at any stage of a career, it’s especially important when the mentee doesn’t have as much personal experience in the industry. With a mentor, they can benefit from the insights gained through years of experience—without having to spend years of trial and error themselves. The mentee’s adoption of the mentor’s perspective can help them avoid pitfalls and in some cases fast-track them to success. This exploration of another person’s worldview can also help mentees become more open to different approaches to problem-solving and more appreciative of other people’s paths.
Exploring different perspectives can help to increase knowledge and understanding of different cultures, generations or industries. It can also help to develop empathy – which is essential for successful collaboration.
Mentoring can also provide an opportunity to gain insight into different ways of working. By understanding how different people approach tasks, it can help to identify new strategies and techniques that can be used in the future. Additionally, it can help to build relationships and trust between the mentor and mentee, which can be beneficial for both parties.
3. Advice, Coaching & More
Every mentor leverages their experience differently. Whether it’s straightforward advice, questioning, coaching, or merely making observations, every mentor will have their own particular brand of imparting their lived experiences. Liz Russell of Living Life Confidently, a blog dedicated to empowering its readers, explains her own experience with mentoring:
“What makes a quality mentor is the combination of their experiences, but more importantly, their willingness to share their insights and invest their time in developing the mentee… Sometimes the advice comes out as straight out advice, for example ‘this is what you need to do…’ Other times it is questioning, more like coaching, to get you to think through the situation. Other times, the advice comes in the form of simply making an observation that allows you to consider the point from another perspective. That is the mark of a great mentor—they know you and care about you enough to tell you what you need, at the time you need to hear it.”
We would add that more importantly, they know how to say it!
Start Leveraging the Experience of Your People!
The people that make up your own team have a ton of experience—and therefore wisdom—to impart. Why not harness this incredible mentoring tool and put it to work for your own organisation? Mentorloop can help. Start by sharing the 10 Key Qualities and Habits of a Highly Effective Mentor eBook with your HR team.