Become a better mentor with the “RISE” Phoenix Mentoring Method
With January being National Mentoring Month, many working professionals may be looking for opportunities to bring on mentees and share their insight and experience as a mentor. If this is you, now is a great time to discuss how to discover the right opportunity to provide mentorship and build meaningful professional connections.
As senior manager of mentorship and networking programs at University of Phoenix, I have seen the direct and mutually beneficial influence mentors and mentees can experience by working together. Mentors, in addition to acting as confidants and sources of guidance for mentees, can learn about industry topics, their own management skills, and unique challenges facing newer generations of industry professionals. The mentorship experience can uncover techniques to bridge the transparent communication gap separating young and seasoned professionals.
Successful mentorship happens when two people establish a relationship built on trust, with shared expectations, defined goals, and honest communication. At University of Phoenix, we have developed the Phoenix mentoring process to help build these relationships, whether in a long-term mentorship (formal mentoring), or a one-time conversation (flash mentoring). The process includes four steps: Relate, Identify, Share and Enhance. Together, these spell out the acronym, “RISE.” Below, I’ve outlined how to accomplish each of these.
R – Relate to the mentee and establish a working relationship
The first step in the “RISE” method is to relate to the mentee by establishing a working relationship. It is important to develop rapport, build trust, and get to know one another to make the most out of this opportunity. This is most important in long-term mentoring, where you and the mentee will be working together for months or years. In a flash mentorship, you will spend less time doing this, since you are limited on time.
As you look to build rapport with your mentee, you should start by asking a series of questions to not only learn about their goals and expectations, but to get to know them on a personal level as well. Often, when you connect on a personal level, it can be easy to work together. Examples of questions you can use to help you relate to your mentee include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Are you currently working while in school? If so, what do you do?
- What do you like about your current job and employer?
- What do you like about your degree / classes?
- When you have leisure time, what do you like to do?
I – Identify the needs of the mentee
Now that you have a better understanding of who your mentee is, it is time to identify their needs and how your mentorship can help them reach their professional goals. Using open-ended questions can help you get the detail necessary to identify the mentee’s needs. Determine what the mentee wants help with and decide if it fits better with a flash or formal mentorship. Examples of questions you can ask to identify needs of the mentee include:
- How would you like your career to evolve?
- Are there any areas in your career that you are struggling with at this time?
- What made you choose to reach out to me?
- How might I be able to help you in your career planning?
- Are you seeking short-term help, or do you see your concerns warranting multiple discussions?
S – Share information to help the mentee
Throughout this process, remember that your knowledge and experience are the reason the mentee reached out to you. You now know about who they are and what they are hoping to achieve, so it is time to perform your role as a mentor and help guide them in the right direction. Sharing is all about bestowing your wisdom upon the mentee. At any given time, you may be sharing through teaching, coaching, explaining, or collaborating. Here are ways to share information in both flash and formal mentoring. Sharing may be Q&A style or open-ended questions.
- You will share the structure of mentorship and collaborate to determine what works best.
- You may discuss the mentee’s career goals as they relate to the objectives for mentorship.
- You may help the mentee with career planning and preparation activities.
E – Enhance the mentorship
You have reached the final step of the “RISE” mentorship method, which is to enhance the relationship. Enhancing the mentorship is about going above and beyond to help the mentee. This is where your expertise and insight really come into play. What questions are they not asking that they should be? What else may benefit them in this situation? Who else might they talk to and can they reach out to you again? Examples of ways to enhance the relationship include:
- A second call (in the case of flash mentorship) or a referral to someone else
- An invite to reach out again or connecting on LinkedIn
- Sending additional resources