By asking new or different questions of your mentor, you can unlock new insight and advice.
Even the best mentoring relationships can fall into a rut over time, often falling back to the same conversation topics. However, by asking new or different questions of your mentor, you can unlock new insight and advice, which can help reinvigorate the mentoring relationship on both sides. As a mentee, you should prepare thoughtfully for each session with your mentor. Why not try some of these conversation prompts to suit your situation and needs?
Ask your mentor to share a story from their professional experiences. For example:
How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Is your career today as you envisioned it five or ten years ago?
What do you wish you knew before taking your first management role?
Which leadership skills were the most difficult to develop?
Let your mentor support you in handling a specific work situation. For example:
How can I be more connected with key influencers or strategic leaders who don’t work in my organisation? OR Who are the people I should align with in this organisation to support future success?
I need to introduce/implement a new initiative and need buy-in from my team/colleagues. What tactics have worked for you?
My performance review is coming up – what type of preparation do you appreciate seeing from your team?
I have an important choice to make about my career path – can you offer some perspectives to help me make a final decision?
Ask your mentor to help you understand how others perceive you. For example:
How can I help improve my professional presence or visibility? What do you think is important to my professional ‘brand’?
I think I learned this from [CPD], how can I apply it more effectively to my work?
How can I improve the communication of [this idea]
Your mentor can help you practise and develop key skills and techniques. For example:
I have been asked to facilitate a team-building session – what might be key to its success?
How can I become better at managing or influencing people who don’t report to me?
Do you have any quick tips for re-energising a busy and stretched team?
What other skills and knowledge do you think it is critical that I develop for future success?
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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2021) Questions to reinvigorate a mentoring relationship. Available at www.rgs.org/careersresources/reinvigoratementoring Last accessed on: <date>
Featured image: @krakenimages/Unsplash
Becoming an ambassador for further study and careers with geography can be a valuable and rewarding way to offer your time and expertise to students.
Mentors are invaluable sources of advice, guidance and support.
Professional bodies support your career and offer opportunities for networking and professional development.
Ellie Highwood draws on her experience as a mentor and training as a coach to address some of the questions that often arise for mentors in the course of a mentoring relationship.
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