Framework curated by Erin Wynn, Manager of Education and Evaluation at MindFrame Connect
As a mentor, you want to ensure you are clearly understanding your mentee so you can help them accomplish their goals. Much of the relationship is spent in conversation – offering insights, seeking information, and brainstorming solutions for them to move forward.
To effectively support your mentee, it is crucial to engage in active listening and make an intentional effort to give your undivided attention. Active listening is not just hearing the words that are said but understanding the complete message behind them.
Dedicate your time with your mentee entirely to them. Don’t spend your time waiting to state your point or contradict something your mentee has said. Make sure your environment is conducive to listening by removing digital distractions.
Your body language, eye contact, and tone of voice send a message to your mentee. Try to ensure that you are actively showing your engagement in the conversation by nodding or encouraging the mentee to continue speaking.
Paraphrasing how you understand the information the mentee has said helps them confirm your understanding and make sure you two are on the same page. It can also direct the most effective use of time and feedback, for example “It sounds like what is most important to you right now is…”
If you are uncertain or don’t understand something your mentee has said, seek clarification or elaboration.
Passive listening is sitting back; active listening is using the above skills to develop thoughtful open-ended questions, offer support and guidance, and create a collaborative problem-solving environment for your mentee.
Active listening is a skill that grows with intentional practice, and one of the best places to practice having deeply impactful conversations is with a mentee.
For more information on Active Listening, we recommend the following resources:
We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.