The power of relationships

A trusted relationship is the foundation for a solid mentoring experience.

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have been asked questions regarding the importance of fluid and flexible relationships in the mentoring process. I have seen the importance of establishing a trusted relationship, fueled with chemistry very early in the process, as failure to do so, will result in a mentoring journey gone bad.

Let’s break each of these situations down and determine some of the best practices that we can follow.

Fluid and flexible relationships

Mentoring relationships, in addition to requiring a high degree of trust, must also be very fluid and flexible. In my conversations, with some current mentors, that can pose a challenge when you are trying to follow a script or agenda of sorts.

Depending on who you are blessed to be spending time with, this fluidity may drive a relationship that has no script to follow and has no agenda to speak of.

When I look back over the mentoring relationships that I have, there has not been a script that is followed and there most definitely has not been an agenda. I have had the opportunities, that are being presented in the conversation, drive where we are going.

Mentoring has evolved from the traditional style to one that we now call effective or modern mentoring where the discipline of mentoring is based on a two way trusted relationship.

Take for example, a situation where something traumatic has occurred in the life of your mentee. They may want to focus on talking about this rather than following an agenda of items that you perhaps had agreed on during your last conversation.

The conversation is one that must take place as it will help prevent internalising emotions that we would want to have expressed. For some mentors,, this is a challenge, especially those that have not had some form of training.

Mentoring has evolved from the traditional style to one that we now call effective or modern mentoring where the discipline of mentoring is based on a two way trusted relationship.

It is based on a continuous learning environment where both participants are going to learn and develop as a result of the process. That will not happen if we are not fluid and flexible.

What is chemistry and why is it important?

The second situation focuses more on the need for chemistry being present in the relationship.

If the chemistry is not readily evident at the outset, then the mentor needs to focus on developing a connection.

Chemistry can be viewed in a couple of ways but I am looking at it from the aspect of a connection with the person that you are about to spend time with in a mentoring relationship. That chemistry can be there, right at the outset of the relationship, which is usually the situation. If that takes place, the relationship is off to a great start and the mentoring journey can and will be a fruitful one.

If the chemistry is not readily evident at the outset, then the mentor needs to focus on developing a connection. What sometimes gets confused with chemistry is the fact that the mentee feels that the mentor is not a good match, may not be able to provide them what they are looking for so they attribute that to poor chemistry. It is more about poor communication and lack of flexibility than anything else.

I just finished a workshop on three topics that are part of the mentor/mentee tool kit. Effective communication, trusted relationship building and the Socratic Method. Chemistry played a small piece in that conversation. The need to be fluid and flexible on the part of the mentor and the mentee was a large part of the conversation.

My recommendation to mentors and mentees is do not be too quick to use lack of chemistry as the excuse for a mentoring relationship not flourishing. Make sure that you are fluid and flexible with the relationship. Take the time to build a trusted relationship – it is the foundation for a solid mentoring experience.

References:

  1. http://www.search-institute.org/blog/developing-trust-in-mentoring
  2. http://www.joe.org/joe/2010december/tt8.php
  3. http://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/resources/build-a-mentoring-relationship/articles/building-trust-in-a-mentoring-relationship/

Headline image courtesy Julia Caesar@unsplash.com

Author: Doug Lawrence

Doug Lawrence is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner and International Certified Mentor Facilitator. Founder of TalentC®, a Human Resources solution provider. Doug was a member of the Board of Directors for the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals. He assisted the University of Regina in the launch of the Hill School of Business Mentor Programme. Doug was a member of the Advisory Board for HR.com, Doug was also instrumental in developing a curriculum to train people on how to become effective mentors which has been accredited by a third party. His company was recently ranked 3rd in the International Partner and Provider category at the 2015 Leadership 500 Excellence Awards. Doug is the President of the Board of Directors for the ICM Society and a Vertical Distinct columnist on leadership and mentoring.

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