Mentoring and Coaching Skills
Many people, even senior-level executives, have never learned
how to be an effective mentor and coach. Mentoring is not simply
answering questions and giving advice; it requires a unique set
of skills and practice. A mentor needs to:
1. Create an open and supportive climate for discussion
Seek to develop trust by encouraging open, two-way
communications; this often means sharing personal experiences or
difficult times you went through so that the mentee knows she or
he can discuss tough issues.
- Respect the mentee's individuality. Your mentee may or may
not have a similar style.
- Be patient if your mentee seems unfocused-help her or him
focus by presenting and discussing options.
- Make it clear that you hope to learn from this
2. Demonstrate good listening/follow-up skills
Most of us need to improve our listening skills; we tend to
talk more than we listen and to interrupt people more than we
- Ask open-ended questions to get your mentee to open up as
much as possible
(Examples: How did you decide to major in communication
sciencesand disorders? What are your longer term goals?)
- After you have listened fully to a response, ask good
follow-up questions to demonstrate genuine interest.
(Example: After you've completed yourinternship, what do you hope to do next to move to the next
- If you do not understand something, try to paraphrase it to
be sure you understand what the person is trying to say.
(Example: So what I thinkyou're saying is that you want to broaden your knowledge of
- After you've discussed an issue in one conversation, be
sure to ask how the situation has progressed next time you
write an e-mail or talk.
- Don't assume that what worked for you will work for your
mentee; rather, try saying something like, "My experience
was (xxx). What do you think will work for you?"
3. Provide constructive feedback and advice.
It is important for you to match the degree of openness of
give negative feedback until you have built a strong relationship
and the mentee is ready to receive it.
- Give a balance of both praise and constructive feedback on
how to improve.
- Always focus on behaviors that can be changed (not
personality traits!) and behaviors that are appropriate within
- Let your mentee set the initial goals and then give
feedback and suggestions.
- Help your mentee make goals specific and realistic with
target dates; monitor progress, help her him or her adapt plans
when necessary, and provide ongoing encouragement.
- Do problem solving with your mentee when issues/barriers
arise. Do not feel that you have to have all the answers but
rather help your mentee think through strategies and
- Consider and discuss additional ways for your mentee to get
advice and information he or she needs. Call on other
mentors/colleagues when appropriate and try to help your mentee
widen his or her network.
Tips for Virtual
of Excellent Mentors