The three ingredients of effective mentoring


As both a professional coach and mentor I am constantly asking myself ‘what makes a good coaching or mentoring session?’ Whilst I believe the best person to answer that question is the client, and it will be different for every client every time, it is also important that we are self-aware and have the ability to assess whether we are delivering effective mentoring to our clients. Whilst there are many factors that contribute to a great mentoring session here are my top three key ingredients:

 The rapport between you and your client is excellent

First and foremost a great mentoring relationship is one where there is excellent rapport between you and your client, one where your mentee trusts and respects you, feels understood and not judged. If rapport is present then in your mentoring sessions dialogue will seem easy and even enjoyable, your client will open up, be prepared to talk about their fears and shortcomings as well as their strengths. But don’t take rapport for granted, it can take effort to build – great rapport comes when you are prepared to put your own judgements aside, step inside their shoes, really learn what is important to them and understand how they view the world.

The mentee has been encouraged to reflect and think through their own solutions

A mentoring session in which you impart your own ideas and solutions will do little more than give your mentee some short term solutions to their immediate challenges. But what happens when a different challenge arises? Will they have learned to think for themselves or will they put the challenge on hold until they have spoken with their mentor again? Excellent mentoring which develops long term capability and confidence involves questioning to help the mentee think through challenges themselves, come up with their own solutions and take responsibility for choosing a course of action.

The mentee has deepened their own self-awareness

Helping your mentee to take action is great, but long term development of your mentee will only happen if the conversation includes discussion around their own motivation and behaviour – what are their strengths, areas for development, what is important to them and what impact do they have upon others?

So what can you do to help develop your mentee’s self-awareness? You can encourage them to reflect on their own strengths and areas for development and as a mentor you can also act as a mirror to reflect back what you see. How a mentee ‘shows up’ in their coaching session is likely to be a reflection of how they operate in their working life. How well were they prepared for their session? Were they on time? What is the impact of their speech and body language having on you? Feeding back their impact on you can have a profound impact on their learning – after all, they may never have been made aware of this before.

Louise Yates, Clear Perspectives Ltd and a Mentor for Community & Business Partners on the Growth Mentoring Programme

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How to get the most from the mentoring relationship

Whether it’s a partner, child, friend or parent; every relationship takes work and time to build trust, respect and strength. This is just as true when you’re working with a business mentor.

The most important part of a mentor-business owner relationship is that you get on well. You need to be able to communicate clearly, discuss what you really want, and have the confidence that together you can work towards developing your goals and growth ambitions.

A business mentor should also be matched with you according to their business background, skills, knowledge and experience, and sector expertise.

Our strength is in finding you the right mentor, but all our mentors have one thing in common;

•Their excellent business background – They are successful business people and want to share the lessons they have learnt.

•They know what it’s like – They understand the daily challenges you face as a business owner.

•They keep up to date with what’s happening in industry, technology and the market. We’re not saying they know everything, but they’ll almost certainly know someone who can assist you if they can’t.

Of course the key to a successful relationship is also that at all times you drive the pace of personal and business development and that decisions remain yours alone.

You set the agenda for the meeting and each time you meet you will review progress against your growth objectives. You will celebrate success, be reassured about what you are doing right and always have a sounding board to test out those off the wall ideas that come to you in the shower!

Remember; as a volunteer they have chosen to ‘give something back’ and we regularly check the quality of their support to ensure it matches your needs, and if these needs change you can request another mentor at any time.

In a recent survey by Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) of established SMEs, the findings showed that 90 per cent of those surveyed said they wish they had used a mentor when they were getting ready for growth.

So what are you waiting for?

Find out more

Boost Business Lancashire offers a growth mentoring programme matching business owners with experienced entrepreneurs. To apply for a place on the programme, visit our Boost Page or call 0800 488 0057.


Jane Houghton-Fenning, Business Development Director, Community & Business Partners.