Being a mentor during the Covid-19 Pandemic is different. Everything we do currently is different. From working remotely for many, to how we socialise and shop. Most people, both at work and home, are experiencing a far greater level of stress than normal. Mentees can adopt a different practical emphasis, both to maximise the impact of their learning and to support them to thrive through the chaos. Mentors need new behaviours to support their mentees in more innovative ways. And organisations need the benefits of mentoring more than ever!
What added value can a mentor bring in this pandemic?
A mentee can use their mentor to:
- Maintain emotional awareness and balance – a mentee can use their mentor to check-in on how they are feeling. As well as to support managing and self-regulating their emotions. Mentors can look out for what their mentees are not saying at this time also and probe gently. Having a mentor who is impartial, non-judgemental and who can open the pressure valve to release some pent up emotional energy in a healthy manner, is vital.
- Manage small steps — it is difficult to plan long term development and career goals. Tiny, micro steps in the right direction is good!
- Have more regular contact — particularly if the mentee is feeling very isolated, lonely and cut off from work colleagues or living on their own. The regularity of contact needs to be contracted, but many mentors are checking in more frequently on their mentees to ensure everything is OK.
- Have more holistic conversations — mentoring is less about talent and leadership development and more about: managing home working, fear of losing jobs, coping with virtual relationships, juggling child care, concern about the economic future, etc.
And don’t forget that developmental mentoring is reciprocal. Conversations may turn into peer mentoring or the mentor discussing their feelings or thoughts as part of the dialogue also.
New roles and behaviours for mentors during a pandemic
Mentors need to adapt their roles and style during the pandemic. Without flexing their approach and behaviours, they won’t be as helpful to their mentees. Time is limited, relationships are virtual and we are all frustrated with our restricted lives.
Emphasise the need for Well-being
Most of us don’t feel as well as we did before the pandemic, both mentally and physically. Checking in with your mentee around their well-being is key. Asking your mentee how they are feeling and how high their stress levels are is the ‘new normal’ in every meeting now.
Put your own oxygen mask on first
Most mentors also experience their mentees issues and stress and that is to be expected.
So, this is a time to share and not try to solve everything for your mentee. As a mentor, first understand that your own answers to some of the questions being asked, can be helpful. Then be ready to support your mentee.
Mentors are more of a reality check than ever
Mentors support the connection between the current chaos and a bigger purpose for the future. Providing reflective space to facilitate that purpose, discuss creative opportunities and be a check in on current reality is key.
Demonstrating patience and being mindful
When living with uncertainty or constant change, the ability to accept the situation, even if it is unpalatable and tough, creates a way forward. Mentors can be role models to their mentees in how to maintain positivity, reframe reality and engage with uncertainty.
Treat your mentee as an equal
We should acknowledge the pandemic is affecting everyone. This is one time when mentors and mentees are on more of an even footing. Mentors need to observe and listen more closely to some of the cues their mentee might be giving them. Using their compassionate empathy to help them identify the most effective way to support their mentee.
Mentoring — the organisation benefits too!
Without a pandemic, mentoring improves employee retention, motivation, engagement and commitment.
In addition, it is known for its ability to support individuals in their purpose, career development and to build confidence. Just think what benefits mentoring can provide in a pandemic!
If these ideas are of interest to you, then let us know. We can provide specific webinars, virtual modules and further reading materials to help you brief your mentors (and mentees) to mentor more effectively through a pandemic.
Or try our product, ‘Thriving through chaos’ cards with an accompanying guide. They are perfect to provide mentors with different techniques and ideas. There is also an online version for personal reflection as an alternative.
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