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Mentoring  Explained

Posted: 27 Nov, 2018

Mentoring is the interaction of two people with the aim of improving, changing and supporting decision making, allowing the mentee to flourish.


Mentoring is the interaction of two people with the aim of improving, changing and supporting decision making, allowing the mentee to flourish. 

Entrepreneurs are not alone. Employees too have dreams, aspirations and plans.  And with this comes loneliness and doubt, anxieties and fear of the unknown.  As a mentor these common in most people that I help. 

We are all mentored, all of the time, daily, by friends, family and work colleagues.  However, these 'interactions' are distorted by relationships over time.  So, a boss mentoring a co worker will be influenced by external factors such as company culture.  Family mentoring is prejudiced by past experiences.  I am sure we can all relate to these interferences, which are called 'bias'.

A mentor needs to have a remoteness from the mentee but at the same time be able to show empathy with crystal clear, bias free, analysis. This is where true value is added.

Some common themes have emerged in my time mentoring people in both stressed and unstressed situations and I report on them here for you to consider:

Decision making. Almost no decisions, if any, are wholly logical. If so we would be Star Trek Vulcans like Spock who had no sub-conscious, unlike us, which acts as the child within.  In particular our sub-conscious has needs; certainty, 'social acceptance' and it needs to feel in control of its decisions. This is why, when faced with uncertain decisions, that are logically very easy to take, we struggle.  Our minds are thrown and logic goes out of the window. People 'follow the herd' to create certainty for the sub conscious. Pricing strategies use this as a technique.

Overthinking. One of the consequences of having thoughts and feelings is our tendency to dwell on issues.  Guilt, duty and loyalty are big blocks to 'thinking straight' for men but particularly so in women that I have coached. Self worth affects confidence and fears hinder action.  The value of a mentor detached from the mentee is their ability to unscramble the emotions behind these blocks and coach the mentee to counter them - setting new values in place of embedded values.

Technical. This is closer to advice and is a valid branch of mentoring. It swaps 'why am I' for 'how do I'.  The mentor can create a road map for the individual to follow and build upon, using technical knowledge, leads and contacts or technical advice.  Finance, restructuring, business growth all depend on technical knowledge and connectivity.

How to influence.  Back to pure mentoring and if we could influence at will then we could all become exactly the person we aspire to be!   Influencing requires knowledge of why others resist.  Sometimes this is deep seated in culture (I don't like this) but more often stems from the time needed by  the resistant person to evaluate (I don't understand this). I see a lot of these dynamics. A less common form or resistance is 'I don't like you' which is harder to counter as it is in the resistant mind, not ours.

Handling unpleasantness at work. This brings us to power dynamics. Especially at home and the workplace where stable relationships are forged over time.  Have you ever seen the bus driver who drives past a waiting passenger?  Completely illogical but, the driver, being bogged in traffic all day, is 'dispossessed' but takes back power as he fails to stop; because he can.  Have you experienced examples of this in the press in organisations where anxiety is high and people are feeling powerless?  In the NHS is are good examples of patient care suffering as disempowered staff 'take back control'.  Where have we heard that phrase in European politics?

So mentoring drives into the psyche of a person. This is why a third party mentor can add huge value alongside all of our other influencers in our daily lives.

It is good to meet but, personally, I prefer to mentor over Skype or WhatsApp video because it maintains that precious remoteness yet allows me to create empathy through visual contact.  It also avoids a lot of the time consuming set up of physical meetings, lowering cost and saving precious time.

Adrian Doble


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