Framework curated by Meghann Coleman, Director at MindFrame Connect
Benji Sucher, the Co-Founder and General Partner of Radical Ventures, summed up the purpose of questioning as “Leading the mentee to see their blind spots (unknown unknowns).”
Questions are a powerful tool in a mentor’s repertoire and though it sounds easy to do, there’s an art to asking them effectively. To start, do some research on different questioning techniques and frameworks and find one that aligns with your approach. Come to a mentor meeting with a couple of questions in mind and allow the mentee to guide the conversation (interjecting with your questions as required).
According to Harvard Business Review, a good place to start with a new mentee is to ask five basic questions that provide a quick snapshot of how the mentee sees themselves, their gaps, and where they could use support. These questions are as follows:
In subsequent meetings and as you get to know a mentee, you can start to use other frameworks that allow you to dive deeper into a particular issue or topic.
The Socratic questioning framework is designed to challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that moves a mentee closer towards their goal. Examples of this approach include:
You can learn more about this style of questioning here.
Young Presidents’ Organization is the gold standard in peer mentorship. Asking good questions is crucial in this type of environment and after years of experience, they have identified seven key elements of an effective question. This is known as the PRAIRIE framework:
Finding the questioning approach that suits you as a mentor is a big component in honing your craft. Actively listening and curiously asking questions will breed opportunity to learn with each mentee interaction.
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.