8 Insights Learned from Mentoring Mistakes

Jack BaxterGuest Post by: Jack Baxter

“March Mentoring Madness” Blog Series Continues Another Month!

Mentoring Mistakes

My experience in mentoring fellow associates (team members) has been one of great success or miserable failure. There did not seem to be anything in-between.

I came to the conclusion a number of years ago that mentoring, in some ways, worked along generation lines. That is to say mentors, mentees of the same generation but some years apart in age and experience worked well. Mentors, mentees that are only one generation apart (Traditionalist / Baby Boomer) would also work out well. Now this assumes that each party has an interest in each other’s success and the goals are clearly outlined.

On more than one occasion I was assigned to mentor what management described as an “up and coming star”, only to learn that the star had gone dark. Said another way, this person had become “disengaged” and it was my job, according to management, to re-engage this individual. That doesn’t work and it becomes an instant failure.

So I have learned from some of my mentoring mistakes over the years. Here are a few insights…

  • Conduct a very through initial interview. The old adage, ask “Why” five times works well here.
  • Identify the key performance factors along with an absolute timeline for completion.
  • Adhere to a regular schedule of Coaching Discussions, no less than once a week in the initial 6 months period.
  • Be aware of the signs of motivation issues.
  • Communicate observations with positive reinforcement.
  • Identify Opportunities.
  • Ask questions, then shut up and listen.
  • Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!