- a few handy pointers on business mentoring...
- Make sure you meet: By far the most common reason for coaching and mentoring schemes to fail is that the busy coach or mentor doesn't find time to meet his or her learners. Make sure you are committed to the idea before signing up and be sure to make the most of technology to keep the relationship going. We strongly urge the use of a diary to keep track of engagements with your learners.
- Keep it short: Formal mentoring and coaching session work best if session are between 30 and 75 minutes. Any less and you won't have time to become focusses, any more and you run the risk of it turning into counselling or therapy!
- Ask don't tell: Remember that the entrepreneurs you help will have to make it on their own. This mean moving away from a "directive" style that you might have learnt as a manager into a non-directive style. A good yardstick is asking questions 75% of the time, 20% giving answers and only 5% of the time sharing suggestions. Its not always easy to apply this but try to remember that your biggest challenge is how to unlock your learners potential- it's down to them at the end of the day.
- Remember its about learning: consider discussing a personal development agenda but let your learner determine its shape and detail. In larger organisations only 30 of manager are open to being persuaded about change in behaviour. To make you time effective you 'll need to tease out exactly what your learner wishes to achieve.
- Expect to learn yourself: Benefits from mentoring are not a one way street. getting result from the people you work with can be a tremendous learning curve for you too.
- Stick to process: At the most basic level mentoring session should be about the entrepreneur talking about issues and you, the mentor listening and asking questions. Its well known that being a sole-trader can be a lonely existence. The value of a sounding board tempered by professional and life experience is invaluable. To make your session productive we suggest the following:
- Ask your learner to come prepared with an agenda, spend the first minutes agreeing it
- Manage the time spent on each issue
- Try to ensure that you both write down action point the learner agrees to
- Agree and date and time for your next meeting
- Know your boundaries: Busy people setting up ion business, often on a shoestring budget are likely to be facing all kinds of stress. Make your learner aware of boundaries and stick to what you know. Dont try to be their therapist.
- Go easy on them: Don't expect immediate results. Your learner may have been thinking about his or her business for years, change can be difficult and takes time to achieve
If you have any questions please contact the Ixion Volunteer Mentors team via:
T: 0844 248 0515