5 Making the most of a mentor
A mentor can be a sounding board for your ideas, a person to listen, confidentially, to any workplace issues you’re experiencing, or someone to give you feedback, e.g. about how you come across in certain situations. They can also help you with goal setting by keeping you accountable and checking on your progress.
In many work experience situations, you’ll be given or offered a mentor. But if you’re not, there’s nothing to stop you from finding one for yourself. Evidence suggests that mentees who find their own mentor tend to have a more successful experience. You might do this by approaching an individual directly. If you choose this approach, make sure you do your homework first. Know what you want from them and what you can offer in return.
Now watch this video of people explaining why workplace mentoring matters.
Mentoring is traditionally a one-to-one interaction and can happen in an informal chat over coffee or through a more structured series of meetings. Having said that, Cristescu (2017) lists a range of different types of mentoring, including:
- peer mentoring – individuals at the same level and in similar positions providing support, skills training, advice on options and career goals etc.
- situational mentoring – used for a short time to address a specific purpose or skill
- group or team mentoring – a mentor working with several mentees at the same time through regular meetings. Everyone gives opinions and shares experiences.
Other types of mentoring include distance mentoring, where the relationship is facilitated by technology such as email or Skype, and reverse mentoring, where a less experienced employee mentors a more experienced individual, encouraging both parties to teach and learn at the same time.
What type of mentoring do you think might suit you best?
A model often used to provide a structure in mentoring conversations is the G-STAR model (Lowbridge, 2012, pp. 32–3). It is particularly useful if the mentee is facing a specific issue or has a specific goal they want to achieve.
In Activity 6, you’ll investigate the different stages of the G-STAR model.
Activity 6 What does G-STAR stand for?
Decide what you think each letter of the acronym stands for and match them up with the options below.
Options: Goals — Strengths — Thinking — Actions — Results — Situation — Theory — Growth — Achievements — Reasons
Table 2 G-STAR acronym
When using this model, the mentor will be exploring:
What are your Goals?
What Situation are you facing?
What is your Thinking at this time?
What Actions are you considering?
What Results will you achieve?
The opportunity to reflect, guided by an experienced colleague, is another valuable chance to enhance your self-awareness, which was identified in Week 2 as key to a successful career.