As a business owner with a bit of experience, you may find yourself in a mentorship situation at one time or another. Whether it be with a new business owner seeking help and guidance on their business journey, or maybe with a key team member or two who are looking to get some executive coaching to further their careers and grow with your business. No matter what the reason, it can be exciting to take on the role of mentor and help another person grow in their field. As a business coach, I have been doing just that for over 25 years. And I want to share the one thing that you want to be crystal clear about before you enter into a mentor-mentee relationship.
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Before we dive into personal responsibility, I’ll mention there is an expectation that both parties are emotionally invested in the relationship. Meaning that you both want to work together and grow and help the other person. If that isn’t present, then personal responsibility is going to be the least of your worries. So let’s assume that you are both emotionally invested in the coaching relationship.
So the next thing you want to get clear on with the other person is that they understand what they are personally responsible for in the relationship. They have to understand that no magical mentor or third-party coach is going to be able to change them simply by snapping his or her fingers. This is not a Bewitched moment where Samantha wiggles her nose and all of a sudden things are different and they are suddenly amazing at their job. This is going to be up to them. They will get out what they invest in the relationship. Their coach or mentor can guide, can direct, can challenge, can support, can call attention to, can help them sweep past any moments of doubt or confusion or insecurity, but ultimately the person who has to put in the investment of behavior to make those changes and to reap those results and rewards has to be the person who’s getting coached or mentored. If they don’t understand this fact, then the relationship is doomed from the very beginning.
To put your mentorship on the right foot from day one, I suggest discussing personal responsibility from the get-go. Be clear as to what is expected from both parties, and end each meeting with actionable items that they can do on their own time. When you meet again, start off by asking them how they did on their homework, and if they failed to do the items outlined in your last meeting, hold them accountable. They will see early on that you are serious about the relationship and the results and expect from them to be. If they fail to take action, set a deadline to do so, and if you find that over time they just aren’t committed to the coaching relationship, it is OK to say that it is no longer a fit for either party involved.
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