Your organisation asked you to be a mentor. Or maybe someone has nominated you. Either way, you have been given the very important role of being a mentor to a young professional coming into the workplace. Your job is to help them with the transition and to journey with them as a thinking partner over the next year or two.

Mentoring is such a crucial role. I know for sure, that I am where I am today, thanks to amazing mentors who have been there for me, challenged me, held a safe space for me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

This period of transitioning to the workplace brings with it an enormous amount of change. And school certainly doesn’t prepare us adequately to manage change. Instead of learning about parallelograms, we could have been learning about various change models. But anyway, here we are.

A good starting point is to understand some of the basic change management models (e.g. Kubler-Ross change curve). Bring this change curve into your mentoring discussions. Talk to the graduate about it and share your personal stories about how you have navigated major change in your life. And then reassure the graduate that things do settle after a while. The initial settling in phase takes a good six months, so they shouldn’t try and have it all worked out in the first month.

Arguably, the best gift you can give the young person you are mentoring, is the gift of your undivided attention. Nancy Kline says it so beautifully with this quote – “the quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking”.

So mentors, if you knew this to be true, how could you give the graduate your undivided attention? How could you respect the intelligence unfolding in front of you? Here are some very practical behaviours:

• Listen without interruption
• Be interested in the thinker
• Be curious about where the person will go next in their thinking
• Know that your silence is the best gift you can offer
• Continue to offer your attention and watch the thinker learn to trust their own intelligence

Happy mentoring.

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