The Essential High Impact Mentoring Strategy

© 2001, Barry Sweeny

INDEX:


A. The Deceptive Nature of Simplicity

A word of CAUTION is in order here. Essential ideas must, by definition, be simple. (I said “simple”, not necessarily easy.) Thereinlies thedanger. There is simple powerful truth behind what is shared on this web page which you may tend to gloss over and MISS or MISunderstand precisely becauseit is simple. Don’t let the simplicity fool you.

The understanding and use of this essential strategy solves so many problems and is so powerful in transforming practice, you simply MUST grasp and use it if you want a high impact mentoring program that delivers quicker results. The reason it’s so important is that these are the steps for transferring learning from the mentoring level to the work place.


B. FUNDAMENTAL PREMISES OF THE ESSENTIAL MENTORING STRATEGY:

1. We must receive the Inuit of effective mentoring before we can effectively give it to others.

2. When we are given the gift of effective mentoring, we will feel that we can never adequately repay our mentor for giving us  such a valuable gift, and we will only be satisfied by passing the gift on to others. (Eleanor Roosevelt said this.)

3. We must understand WHY the gift we received was valuable to us, so it will be just as valued when we give it to others.

4. If WE are the mentors, we will probably need a Mentor of Mentors to do these things for us, and then help us understand the process so we can pass it on.


C. The Essential Mentoring Strategy

1. Provide a high impact learning experience to the individual learner. Try to do so without explaining what you are doing or why. “Just do it”.

2. Afterward, ask open-ended questions to guide the learner to reflect on and analyze that experience for WHY it had a high impact on them. Once that is done, then.

3. Ask questions to prompt the learner to discover the parallel work strategy** which made it a high impact learning experience.

4. Facilitate the learners planning for how to use that high impact work strategy in his/her own work to improve learning, growth, performance, and results.

5. Mentor and support the learner in using and mastering the work strategy in his/her own work.


** A “work strategy” is any “truth” or performance strategy which is required in your work and organization to be truly excellent, such as:

  • Honoring and using the strengths diversity provides;
  • The power of the team to do more than the separated individuals can;
  • The power of data to transform thinking, reveal issues, and create insights, and develop commitment;
  • The value of learning to be open to feed back from others who care about us, etc.;
  • The necessity of emotionally safe environments to support taking the risk of learning with others.

D. How Might Use of This Strategy Look in Actual Settings?

The Essential Mentoring Strategy just presented was intentionally stated in very general terms. This was done to ensure it’s applicability for every setting. However, that generality of language may make it difficult for the reader to imagine how it would actually work in their specific mentoring context.

Let’s “translate” the language of the Essential Mentoring Strategy to help you see a couple of such specific applications.

In a business setting where the mentor is trying to help the protege learn about (eg.) excellent customer relations, the essential strategy might look like this.

What we will need to translate are the words:

  • Learning > Mentoring
  • Learner > Protege
  • Work strategy* > Excellent customer relations
  • Work > Customer relationships

Here is the essential mentoring strategy translated for that setting:

1. Provide a high impact mentoring experience to the protege. Try to do so without explaining what you are doing or why. “Just do it”.

2. Afterwards, as open-ended questions to guide the protege to reflect on and analyze that experience and WHY it had a high impact on them. Once that is done, then…

3. Ask questions to prompt the learner to discover the parallel concepts in excellent customer relationships which made it a high impact learning experience. (“How is mentoring like excellent customer relations?”)

4. Facilitate the protege’s planning for how to use the high impact concepts of excellent customer relationships in his/her own work with customers to improve learning, growth, performance, and results.  (“How can you apply what you have learned in your work with me in your work in customer relations?”)

5. Mentor and support the protege in developing excellent customer relationships in his/her own work with customers.  (“Specifically, how will you implement that insight into your work and how might I support your doing that?”)


In an educational setting (K-12 schools or higher education), the essential strategy might look like this.

What we will need to translate are the words:

  • Learning > Mentoring
  • Learner > Protege
  • Work Strategy* > Instructional strategy
  • Work > Teaching or classroom.

1. Provide a high impact mentoring experience to the individual protege. Try to do so without explaining what you are doing or why. “Just do it”.

2. Afterward, ask open-ended questions to guide the protege to reflect on and analyze that learning experience and WHY it had a high impact on them. Once that is done, then…

3. Ask questions to prompt the protege to discover the parallel instructional strategy which made it a high impact learning experience. (“How is mentoring like excellent teaching?”)

4. Facilitate the protege’s planning for how to use that high impact instructional strategy in his/her own teaching to improve student learning, growth, performance, and results.  (“How can you apply what you have learned in your work with me in your work as a teacher?”)

5. Mentor and support the protege in using and mastering the teaching strategy in his/her own classroom.  (“Specifically, how will you implement that insight into your teaching and how might I support your doing that?”)