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Why Mentor as a Manager?

Julie Starr (“The Mentoring Manual” – Chapter 4) identifies 5 core abilities that support successful mentoring relationships as follows:

  • Connect through effective listening
  • Build a relationship of engagement and trust
  • Maintain an effective focus
  • Help overcome false limits, roadblocks or barriers to progress
  • Help someone grow

Managers may ultimately have a responsibility for productivity and the performance in the context of the organisation.  However, this can only be optimised if their teams are delivering, and the quality of that delivery is very much dependent upon the relationship between team members and the manager.  The expectations of the manager may well vary according to a variety of factors including the experience of the team but fundamentally efficient teams only function well if relationships and the interpersonal role of the manager is respected.  Listening, engagement, trust and focus as well as growth are all integral elements to progress and ultimately to performance.

Myles Downey’s Spectrum highlights quite accurately where mentoring sits in day to day conversations and emphasises that, while guidance and advice may be included in the relationship, the building of the relationship and the establishment of trust is key.  The mentor will be seen by the mentee as a resource, not in a “telling” role but rather in a “sharing” role, generosity and benevolence are crucial for the mentor.  Teams are made up of people who must be seen as individuals, not just parts of a whole.  The manager’s role as a mentor would be to leverage the strengths of team members, demonstrating an investment in their development while acting as a role model.  Their will inevitably be a certain “imbalance” of power in the relationship and the mentor must be sensitive as to how they are being perceived by the mentee.  When operating as a manager, there will be a delicate balance in managing expectations of the mentee in alignment with those of the organisation.  Mentoring skills can help a manager to navigate challenges such as these.  In today’s world the expectations of the role of a manager have evolved from being simply informational and decisional

The British School of Coaching’s programme, Mentoring Skills for Managers CPD Programme, delivers workshops which develop knowledge and skills around shaping meaningful mentoring conversations, including exploring theoretical frameworks as well as mentoring practice.  These will help managers fulfil their role in the most effective and impactful way possible and meeting expectations of both their teams and the organisation.

Virginia Raymond

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