Ten Values in Dynamic Mentor/Mentee Relationships.

Have you ever gone to a networking coffee event and felt that they were more interested in counting coffee grounds on the counter than hearing what you had to say? 

Or, on the flip side, have you ever been asked to mentor or have someone shadow you and turned it down because you honestly did not know what to say, do, or how to be a proper influence? 

Perhaps you were looking for something different than a mentor: a coach, a network, or a friend, but not a mentor.

Peer mentoring is a vastly different concept than career counseling or professional networking. Opportunity Knocks of Central Oregon was created to help facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring to help business leaders grow. Opportunity Knocks is a mentoring program, meaning each mentee and mentor plays both roles–sometimes offering experience, advice, suggestions and motivation, and sometimes receiving.

Mentorship programs are substantially more successful and results-driven than casual mentorships because they create a format and guidelines for each participant to follow, and team members hold mentors and mentees accountable for showing up and maintaining a relationship. 


Benefits to a Facilitated Mentorship Group:

  • Mentorship programs are personal, getting to know each participant on a deeper level, both personally and professionally. 

This allows them to understand not just what their peer does for a living, but what drives them, their passions, their values, interests and aspirations. Mentorships can be peer-to-peer and not just superior-subordinate, which makes them less formal, more personal and more participative.

  • Peer-to-peer mentoring offers boundaries such as time, place and confidentiality. 

Facilitated programs like Opportunity Knocks limit the frequency of meetings; meeting for a length of time where members go deeper, beyond the casual conversation. Teams are in touch between meetings sharing information and recommendations outside the program.

  • Peer-to-peer programs are collaborative. 

Unlike the occasional keynote, performance appraisal, or CEO speech, mentor programs request participation from everyone, which makes them universally more collaborative and interactive, versus lecture-type coaching.

  • Guided mentorship programs are feed-forward, not just feedback which makes the advice more constructive, with tips, suggestions and ideas that are honest and more effective. 

As people move up in an organization blunt candor is rare; your mentor group becomes your own personal Board of Directors, with trusted advice from fellow peers that is neither bottom-up or top-down.

  •  With a mentor program, members can be honest without consequence. 

In a peer-to-peer program, you are not the boss, coach or counselor. You are, however, a trusted advisor bringing into the mentor group your own personal and professional journey, based on past experiences, leaving actions or results to your cohort. 

  • There is a larger exchange of information with mentoring groups. 

Talent is developed through the 70/20/10 rule: 70 percent is experimental, 20 is coaching and feedback and 10 percent is learned through classes, reading and workshops. The more people on the team, the more experimental anecdotes, the more feedback and coaching, and the more information is transferred between the group of books read, classes attended and workshops participated in. 

While mentorship programs generally have a higher rate of success, no mentorship program is effective without an effective mentor. That’s why it is so important to understand what makes a good mentor and how to identify what makes a successful mentor relationship in any type of mentoring situation: peer-to-peer, superior-to-subordinate, facilitated mentorship or group mentoring.  

Ten Values Found in Effective Mentors

  • Values peer participation, collaboration and alternate perspectives. 

It can not be stressed enough that the success of a mentoring program requires participation. The premise of the entire relationship is providing alternate perspectives and participating in the conversations around the mentee in a collaboration of minds. A good mentor will actively participate, but will also seek information and ask questions of each mentee to make sure they are getting something out of the mentorship as well.

  • Gives honest, but respectful, feedback. Honesty is key to getting real advice. 

A good mentor will provide honest advice with the goal of being helpful, and producing such advice in a respectful and tactful way, based on previous experience. Mentorships should be a safe place for both the mentor and the mentee, and an effective mentor will be better heard and create a better relationship if they are able to be honest, blunt, and kind. This develops a safe environment for all participants.

  • Actively listens and participates. 

A conversation is only as good as its content. A good mentor will play a part as both mentor and mentee, participating and offering feedback and advice when they have something to contribute, and actively listening when mentees have perspective or problem to share. They seek advice and counsel and appreciate the face-to-face environment for these conversations.

  • Advocates on your behalf. 

A good mentor is a personal cheerleader for your success. They will only offer helpful pieces of advice, refrain from criticism with no point, and champion your successes. This strengthens the mentor/mentee relationship and promotes further participation in the mentorship.

  • Has common ground with you. 

At Opportunity Knocks, we believe that connections can be made on many different bases besides simply industry.  Our participants find common ground in the groups they participate in based on goals, opportunities and obstacles.

The point isn’t that everyone is in the same boat, but rather, that they are all navigating  upstream challenges and each one has tried different methods to paddle. A good mentor doesn’t expect you to follow their exact same path, but rather, looks for shared experiences that can help elevate growth in their mentees’ professional life.

  • Motivates others. 

Good mentors are people who engage, inspire and encourage their peers. Where there is a personal passion for success, there is a mentor that is doing their job right! Motivation gets the ball rolling, but also keeps the trajectory and goals moving in a positive direction over the life of the relationship and beyond.

  • Constantly learns. 

No mentor can be effective without being a life-long learner, in the workplace, culturally, and as the world changes. A good mentor adapts to this change by constantly taking in new information, processing it, using it in everyday situations and delivering it to their peers and mentees.

  • Values growth. 

Just as a strong mentor is adaptable to change, they do so because change is inevitable and they value growth: personal growth, growth of their network, growth of their business, and growth of their community. Stagnate individuals have less to offer to their mentees than someone who is interested in evolving and continuously growing as a business and individual.

  • Are inspired. 

Uninspired advice has no place in an effective mentorship. Passion for the process creates a more motivating and collaborative environment, and is therefore more effective. An inspired peer can get their point across quickly because they care about their team members and personal relationships with them.

  • They prize confidentiality. 

Due to the sensitivity of the peer-to-peer relationship in a mentorship, and the sensitivity of trade secrets and business practices, confidentiality is crucial. In a mentorship relationship, privacy and confidentiality is a necessity so that honest and helpful advice can be given in a safe environment. Just like a counselor is required to maintain confidentiality, a mentor should offer their opinion and ear without consequences.

The combination of peer-to-peer mentorship and selecting effective mentors will help build growth through proven methods and inspired mentoring. When a mentor is engaged, honest, relevant, dynamic, evolved, inspired and discreet, they create lasting, and successful interactions with their mentee(s), so the mentee is engaged and never distracted by the spilt grounds on the coffee counter. 

Previous post

OK Workshop: Is it Time to Pivot your Company?

Next post

What’s the Problem? It Might Be Your Vision, Mission and Values.