Mentors and mentees asking you what they should do during their meetings? Let’s say they’re in their second or third month– they’ve gotten to know each other, shared successes and failures, and maybe even gone to a professional social event together. Sounds like it may be time for a dramatic change to spark their motivation!
On Forbes.com, Ian Altman advocates for “improv” meetings between mentees and mentors working in sales, “Establish regular role-play sessions where your goal is to provide constructive feedback and mentoring. Always start with what is working, and limit suggestions to one or two areas for the greatest impact.” But these methods benefit professionals in any realm where social interaction is integral to efficient communication, i.e. every department and type of business!
If you only suggest role playing to your participants and leave it there, they won’t know what to do. Try the following suggestions, and tell them to pick one that resonates with past challenges or upcoming opportunities. One last tip: don’t suggest this activity for an early Monday morning meeting. It takes coffee and sunlight to make a task like this appealing. Try the late morning or afternoon.
Negotiation. Negotiation skills do not come easy. Most people learn them the hard way– over years of wonky conversations and tense meetings. Dr. Linda Babcock, the James M. Walton Professor of Economics and the head of the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania focuses on training the next generation of excellent female negotiators, “Often, people have this view of negotiation that it’s competitive and you have to do unethical things to succeed. Seeing women present different styles of negotiation makes it more accessible. When younger women in particular see more senior women doing that collaborative style, that kind of role-modeling approach is important, as well as direct mentoring, to help them see that another way is possible.” Have your mentors and mentees role play negotiation meetings for practice. Mentors might even learn a thing or two in this tricky arena!
Performance Reviews. While upcoming performance reviews may not seem like an obvious source of anxiety, professionals rarely prepare for them, and leave the meetings not having made the most out of the conversation. Encourage your mentees to prepare for performance reviews by having their mentors go over potential positive and negative remarks. Encourage the mentees to be open to constructive criticism and to get useful feedback out of the meeting instead of feeling blindsided or confused. Remind your mentee to be prepared to discuss your career goals as they see them. Get your life, mentee!
Asking for a Raise. Who feels 100% confident and anxiety-free entering a meeting where they ask for a raise? No one. Paul McDonald, the Senior Executive Director at Robert Half Staffing Solutions notes that trusted mentors often make the best sounding boards for these kinds of meetings, “our mentor will be able to flag any issues—including non-verbal cues—that could hurt your case. A great adviser will practice the conversation until you can make a solid business proposal.”
Many more professional situations warrant a rehearsal! Let your participants brainstorm social interactions, conversations, or meetings where a little practice might help. Pitch meetings and presentations, for one, always improve when you’re prepared. Even sticky situations like interviews or resignation meetings can benefit from a run-through to boost confidence.