Coach’s Corner Blog

8 “WHATS” to Engage and Mentor

January 20, 2017 by Leave a Comment

Engage & Mentor as a Leader

Now that we are a few weeks into the new year and everyone is settling in to the promise of what 2017 will be for you, your team and your organization, I hope that the early indicators are for a prosperous time for you all.

As a leader, I’d like to suggest eight key WHATS you should embrace that will have a positive impact upon:

  1. Employee Engagement – A tangible connection your staff can draw between their efforts and the progress of the business;
  2. Effective Mentoring – Using your expertise to train and develop another.

Now, there are some WHATS that are heard when we experience less than flawless execution from our staff, such as:

  • What is wrong with you?
  • What were you thinking?
  • What did you think would happen when…?
  • What did you expect…?

These obviously have very limited utility for engaging with or mentoring others in a quality manner. But the following will.

Engaging Others

When you sit down to chat with someone, concentrate on being fully present with them and actively listening.

If you are trying to enhance their appreciation of how their efforts contribute to the success of the team or organization, laser focus on understanding how they view things.

Be very patient and model what it means to be an effective listener, encouraging an effective back and forth and demonstrating your keen interest in understanding their perspective.

In today’s world of infinite availability and an artificial need for immediate feedback, it will be very refreshing for others to see someone who can slow things down and take the time that’s needed for a quality connection.

A refusal to be hurried and a dedication to seeking to understand one another will be both impactful and memorable.

Try these first 4 WHATS:

  • What’s on your mind / What’s up?
  • What can I help you with?
  • What do you need to move this forward?
  • What would you do under these circumstances?

Mentoring Others

There is one thing that the Millennial segment of our workforce is very focused upon and that is discovering a path to advance their career.

Acquiring skills and experience, whether it’s some combination of company-sponsored training, external certifications, project work or guidance and mentoring from leaders or subject matter experts, it is all of critical importance.

Your skills as a mentor must be carefully developed and these 4 WHATS can be very useful:

  • What can I do to support your efforts on this project?
  • What would your approach be here?
  • What led you to believe or think that?
  • What would your definition of success be with that approach?

One critical area of mentoring is to ensure that the mentor is not just telling the mentee what or how they would perform a task or execute on a challenge.

I was recently coaching a very brilliant young woman who was leading a successful startup.

Her organization was involved in a business incubator. This incubator assisted budding entrepreneurs with a variety of technical assistance as well as mentoring from folks with similar industry experience.

Although this was a formal mentor/mentee relationship, my client expressed her frustration with the mentor because he concentrated much of his time on trying to tell her what she should do.

In the short run that may be quite useful, but it does not provide the guidance that could help her develop her skills and add to her relevant experience.

The gentleman was keenly interested in being of assistance, but he did not really know how to become a mentor.

Although there are different skills involved in enhancing employee engagement and in being a good mentor, they are both very important in developing and maintaining healthy work environments and highly motivated employees.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I allocate the time needed to enhance the level of engagement of the members of my team by helping them understand how their efforts contribute to the success of the team and organization?
  • Can I overcome the need to tell a mentee what to do about an issue and spend the time to help them think through it themselves?
  • Have I cultivated the patience I need to be able to listen and be fully present to assist those I’m working with to grow and develop?

I look forward to your thoughts and comments below.


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