Based on the name, you may think a business mentor only uses the techniques of mentoring. Yet the best mentors use additional techniques and angles to bring out the best in their protégés (or “mentees”). A great mentor will act sometimes as a coach, and others as a mentor and occasionally in the role of consultant to you and your business. Knowing which approach to take in which context is a key mentoring skill. While at first, it may be difficult to distinguish between the approaches available in the mentoring process, it is a technique that spans the spectrum from coaching to consulting as appropriate.

Consulting

Consulting is “giving advice to others in the same field,” but it also implements a fairly hands-off approach.

A mentor solely acting as a consultant may meet with you only a fraction of the time that someone putting an emphasis on coaching would. Additionally, in a consultant role they may focus more on giving you timely advice assuming your existing knowledge, a mentee with less industry experience needs more insight development that comes from a different technique.

A consultant will give statements such as, “I think you should…” as opposed to asking questions, as a coach might.

In essence, a consultant will give you an analysis of your business, provide feedback and return sometime later to see what improvements have been made — then repeat the process over again.

Coaching

The coaching technique that a mentor may use is a less directive one. In many ways, it is similar to a professional sports coach watching from the sidelines. More specifically, a coach will:

  • Elicit from you the plans and strategies to implement in your business.
  • Review and evaluate which of those you did and assess actions you can improve upon.
  • Ask open questions such as “What else have you considered?”

In other words, a mentor assuming the role of a coach will often help you to define specific goals and assignments to tackle in your business, then adjust or further develop them based on how well you carry them out.

Mentoring

Mentoring is a thorough process that requires a hands-on approach by the mentor and attentive involvement from the mentee. This techniques often produce a close working relationship and can require more time between the mentor and mentee compared to pure consulting or pure coaching techniques.

A good mentor will make himself or herself available to you via monthly, or more frequent meetings to see how you and your business are progressing. Together, you will work to implement and solidify your company’s core values. You will also focus on other aspects of the mentor’s field of speciality. For example, a mentor with 30 years of marketing experience will be less likely focus on your balance sheet or income statement. Instead, they will probably focus on target marketing and developing a solid campaign strategy. If you are the owner of a business, and you need to be involved with many facets of the company, so you may have more than one mentor and focus on a separate key area of the business with each.

A good mentor continuously implements the three major facets of consulting, coaching and mentoring at various times. Each when needed by the mentee for best results throughout the process. In the beginning, you may need the hands-on approach of a mentor, later you will need to use coaching for the elements where you are confident and consulting for areas where you have knowledge gaps.

Once you really start to flourish, you may only need periodic engagement to ensure your business development continues to progress toward your goals.

If you would like to know more about working with a mentor, arrange a call with me here…

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Written by: William Buist - all rights reserved.
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