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Once Upon a Time… A Mentoring Tale

I’ve been actively involved in the mentoring program with the HRPA York Region chapter for over 4 years now. Both as a Mentee and Mentor, and recently as a volunteer with the Mentoring Committee. I am a strong believer in the program, and mentoring in general. However I realize that some feel the term “mentoring” is overused or misused. I have to agree in some cases.

That being said, I know that when a properly structured mentoring relationship is created, there are benefits for both parties.

After my 2nd year as a Mentee, my Mentor told me that I have to come back to the program as a Mentor.

Um…pardon? I don’t have much experience in HR. I’m not sure I’d be of any help to anyone. I am not an expert in any area.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was wrong. Very wrong.

A wise person once told me that “we are all subject matter experts when it comes to our own experiences.”

Therein lies the key to being a great mentor – sharing your experiences with another, not always trying to feed them the right answers. If you can make a connection between the needs of your mentee, and your own experiences, it will make a huge impact.

Tap into your memories

As a mentor, you have had years of experience in one or more roles, industries and/or professions. Don’t let it go to waste…use it! As a matter of fact, you may look on your past experience and see things much differently now. That can be valuable to you and your mentee.

Make a connection

Take the time to make a relevant connection between the needs of your mentee and your experiences. Choose important learning points. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a situation where everything worked out perfectly. We can often find the right answers from mistakes.

Tell the story

Sharing a story with your mentee can speak volumes. A story goes beyond describing the situation. It communicates emotions and thought process. If told well, the audience can imagine themselves in the story. But it has to make sense. Nobody wants to listen to your story and then say “So what?” Make sure there is a clear point or lesson to the story. Sometimes I stop the story before the end and ask my mentee “What would you do next?” This helps them make connections to their own situation.

Perhaps it’s my coaching nature coming through, but my approach has always been to help others find their own right answer, not give it to them. Why? Because I don’t always have the right answer, and I never pretend to.

I would never want someone, years from now, to say “Gee…that Baker guy didn’t know what the heck he was talking about!”

I’d much rather have them say, “A wise man once shared with me a great story…”

Note: be sure to keep the story brief and to the point…something I strive to improve…

The Long-winded Storyteller

As an HR Consultant and Employment Coach, Tim leverages his past experiences in Operations and HR Management to provide consultancy and coaching services to SMB and individuals. He volunteers his time with local non-profit organizations as an adviser and volunteers with the Human Resources Professionals Association where he am an active member. Tim enjoys blogging for himself and guest blogging for others.

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