Although it is usually thought of as a way to enhance an employee’s career path, mentoring can have benefits for the company too. Workplace mentorship is one of the most popular initiatives that an organization can take with regards to improving employee engagement and reducing turnover. Mentoring is also an important element to skill development and succession strategy. In fact, over 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have workplace mentoring programs.
However, to get the most out of a mentorship, mentees need to be clear, focused and may even need to encourage a mentor in their role. The easiest way to accomplish this is by asking questions.
Tips on types of questions to ask
Most mentors have years of experience. While it can seem difficult to discover ways you can harness that wisdom, asking them direct and open-ended questions is the best way to learn.
Some of the questions that you can ask to get more from your mentorship include:
Remember that no question is a bad question. If your mentor is talking about something that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask them what they mean. You will both get more out of the mentorship if you understand each other and communicate well.
Tips for great mentoring sessions
Before you head into any meeting with your mentor, get prepared. Mentors are usually quite busy people so make the most of the time they offer you. Have a goal for your meeting. What issue are you looking to discuss? Write down a list of questions related to this issue. This helps you get the most from your mentor’s time and also allows you to focus.
In addition to asking for their advice, take the time to get to know your mentor as a person. What do they like to do with their spare time? Look for some ways that you can help them. Mentor relationships do not have to be one-sided.
After the meeting, reflect on what you learned. Write down any additional questions that have come up as a result of the discussion.
Send a thank you message to your mentor so they can see you appreciate their time and advice.
Sometimes the answers to these questions will unveil problems with your mentor. If you feel your mentor might not be the best match for you it is okay to get in touch with the manager of your workplace mentoring program to request changing your mentor.
The old adage is true that you only get out what you put in, even when it comes to mentoring. The more effort you put in to get to know your mentor, to learn as much as you can and to show your appreciation the more you will connect with your mentor, learn and earn respect. One of the best ways to do this is by asking questions, particularly the right ones.