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5 Modern Mentorship Methods that don't work


Checklists

Here is how this method usually plays out. 

  1. An organization decides there are a few skills and ideas that an employee needs to know.

  2. They then create a checklist of said skills and essential knowledge for the task. 

  3. Finally, they assign a "mentor" to teach them these skills and pass on the knowledge needed. 

Why it doesn't work: 

Mentorship is relationship-based, and human relationships are most effective when they are natural and organic. When an arbitrary list guides a relationship ormentorship, it cannot grow in its most natural way. 


Overarching goals are great, but when you reduce mentorship to a limited checklist, you suck the life and excitement out of the experience. If the relationship between mentor and apprentice takes a back seat to the list, you take all the enjoyment of the process from both mentor and apprentice, and they are left with busy work.


Speed mentoring

Speed Mentoring is a relatively new concept that has come out of the speed dating movement. 

  1. A group of "apprentices and mentors gather together in a room. 

  2. The mentors sit alone at tables set for two.

  3. The apprentice chooses a mentor to sit down with. 

  4. The apprentice has 10 minutes to ask anything of the mentor sitting in front of them.

  5. The organizers ring a bell, and the apprentice moves to the next "mentor" for another 10-minute mentor date. 

  6. After a couple of hours of this, your mentoring is over. 

Why it doesn't work:

Again, mentorship is about relationships, and 10 minutes of questions do not a relationship make. I do think something like this could help find a mentor that fits you well, but it is just a start. Speed mentoring would be more aptly titled speed networking or speed consulting. This is not mentorship


Arbitrary pairings

One of the most challenging questions for an organization to answer is how do we pair apprentices with mentors. The most common practice is convenience driven. 

  1. We have a new employee in a country or department.

  2. We also have an experienced employee in that same country or department. 

  3. Put them together and obligate Mr. Experience to mentor Mr. Newbie. 

  4. They meet together in awkward conversations about work.

Why does it not work: 

Admittedly, sometimes this does work. But it is hit or miss, and it is reliant on the skills and gifting of the mentor. You cannot predict how their personalities, life experiences, music preferences, family situations, etc. will interact with each other. 


You would never go into a kitchen and start mixing random spices to create a meal, you consider how each one interacts and balances the other, and in this way, you create something delicious. 


In the same way, if you give people options for who might be their best mentor, you provide them with choice and they can find someone who they feel can challenge them, or give the mentor the responsibility to choose, so he can invest in someone who he sees real promise in.


Guru approach

The idea here is that the mentor guru is the source of all good things, and the apprentice is an idiot and has nothing of value to offer. So, if the idiot apprentice will just listen and soak up all the guru has to say at any given moment on any given topic, he can save him from his folly and set him on a path to enlightenment. 


Why it doesn't work:

The best mentorships start with the realization that both mentor and apprentice have value. They both have good ideas and helpful history to share. One may be further along in the journey, and he can give insight as to what is to come and how to prepare for future growth. But even the mentor could have missed some interesting insights and opportunities for growth along the way. 

It is up to the apprentice to share these things with the mentor as well. Then, both can grow and benefit from each other's experiences. 


Emotion-based approach

The emotion-based approach is mostly about making you feel good about yourself. It is more like therapy than mentorship. The mentor would point out unhealthy thought patterns and try to correct them so that the apprentice will find happiness. This methodology relies heavily on self-help books and programs to accomplish its goals.


Why it doesn't work:

Simply put, relying on our emotions to guide us is a self-centered and often deceptive path. Though it is vital to be emotionally healthy and stable, feeling good and being good are not always the same thing. 


A character-based approach would be more productive. It is the same format that you would find in the Bible. Develop character, learn to make the right choices, and put others ahead of yourself. Develop integrity and character, that is the righteous path. Emotional over-emphasis leads to self-worship; but character leads to sacrificial love.

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