Want to Be a Better Team Mentor? Ask These Guiding Questions
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
by Chris Danek
Have you ever mentored a group? Mentoring a group is different than mentoring an individual, and I think it’s more challenging. As the mentor, you have an obligation to help the collective team grow and an obligation to the individuals. I’ve learned that you need specific skills to be a good mentor and help a team reach its peak performance. You can develop and strengthen these mentorship skills like any other set of professional skills.
Your team’s sense of purpose places them on a journey to make an impact. Your sense of purpose to help them places you on a journey to develop your mentoring skills.
I originally started to draft a checklist for mentoring a group. But being a great mentor just doesn’t work that way. You can’t just check boxes. You have to be aware of your team and its performance, the changing situation it faces, and your effectiveness as a mentor.
Instead of a checklist or playbook, I am offering these guiding questions that I hope will help you in your journey to become a great mentor. If the list seems long, try to keep these two questions in mind.
What would I suggest now to the team so that it might improve?
If a great new mentor took over for me today, what would they do? Challenge yourself to overcome path history, and be the best mentor you can be now.
Guiding questions about your team
Does your team share a common purpose? Can everyone on the team clearly state the purpose and the vision of the team? How well do their versions match?
Are there clear roles and responsibilities for everyone on the team?
Does the team have the resources it needs to succeed? Is it accessing all of its resources?
Is the team committed to improving its capability, its ways of working, and its performance?
Has the team adopted agile ways of work?
How well does the team communicate?
What is the team doing to celebrate wins — big or small?
Guiding questions about you as a mentor
Am I a good role model for the team? Share optimism, creative confidence, and empathy with your team, especially when they struggle.
Am I positive? Keep in mind the Positive Coaching Alliance’s 5:1 golden ratio of “five parts specific, truthful praise to one part constructive correction.”
Do I keep a “beginner's mind,” even if I have expertise to share?
Am I letting the team own their project? If so, it will excel and be happier in its work.
Do I adjust how much help I give? Balance challenge with opportunity for success. Help the team to grow and succeed, but allow it to struggle.
Am I reaching all team members with my support? Am I helping the team create a productive and safe environment where everyone has a voice?
How might I best reach my team? What is the best style and approach I can bring now? Do they need a coach, teacher, facilitator, thought partner?
As you continue your mentorship journey, you can revisit these questions often. Your answers will be changing with the team’s growth, its progress, and its new challenges. You will keep improving as a mentor. And your team will thank you for it!
Thank you to Pete Siu, a great mentor to Bessel Origin teams. He helped me think about this post and added some of the reflection questions.
Are you interested in mentoring a team or learning to be a great mentor? We’re looking for mentors for our next cohort of Bessel Origin participants. Get in touch to learn more!
Photo by Mikael Blomkvist from Pexels