How to improve your mentoring skills

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How to improve your mentoring skills

Being a supportive mentor or coach who is able to provide a mentee with considered advice and guidance requires some planning and effort. Here we walk through how to improve your mentoring and coaching skills.

At the start

  • At this stage it makes sense for the mentor to take the lead. From the outset clarify the type of relationship you are willing and able to have with your mentor – consider how often you will be able to meet; what kind of boundaries you want to maintain. Your relationship may change substantially over time, but it is important to manage expectations at the start.
  • From the very beginning keep in mind that the goal of mentoring is not to create the mentee in your own image. Make sure this acknowledgement informs the advice and suggestions you provide.


The fundamental role of a mentor or coach involves:

  • giving feedback
  • offering insights
  • helping to define goals
  • signposting opportunities.

To do this well you must prioritise listening, asking questions and suspending any judgement or prejudice you may feel towards the mentee’s options or decisions. The STEPPA Model for Coaching outlined below is a useful guide to ensure you are putting the mentee’s development first.

The STEPPPA Model of Coaching was developed by Dr Angus McLeod, a professional coach and coaching instructor. The STEPPPA acronym stands for Subject, Target Identification, Emotion, Perception, Plan, Pace and Action or Amend. Emotion is a primary driver of human behaviour. Through the process of exploring feelings, thoughts and perceptions you can help your coachee work out the most appropriate action to take in a given situation.

STEPPA Model of Coaching
STEPPA Model of Coaching Sourced from Chartered Managers Institute

Another established model that may be helpful as a coach or mentor is Heron’s Six Categories of Intervention. The categories, developed in 1975, outline the different styles of intervention a coach or mentor can use. Actions that fall within the authoritative style are best suited to when managers need to take charge of a situation or take responsibility for a mentee. These should occur less frequently. The facilitative style of intervention is best used when a manager supports the mentee in developing their own sense of responsibility for an issue. This should be the more frequently used style.

Heron’s Six Categories of Intervention Sourced from Chartered Managers Institute.

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