If you are a mentor and do this like I used to, you will probably steer the conversations with your mentee largely in the moment and based on experiences you have made in the past. You are likely not to have a set path to follow for the meetings with your mentees. They have probably reached out to you because they are feeling stuck in life, or transitioning into new things or back into old things. You will let conversations flow from recency and their most immediate feelings. And maybe, you even end up wondering after 2 or 3 sessions, what the next one should be about.
Here’s a way out. Gallup’s StrengthFinder® is one of the most accessible and affordable psychometric self-assessment tools that are available. Ask your mentee to take the assessment – for less than USD 20, they will be able to do this online – and share the results with you.
Take some time to absorb the content of the reports. Through this report, your mentee is giving you valuable information about herself. The report is available to the mentee too and it makes sense for her to have read through it too. She has answered the questions to the best of her knowledge and what you see in the resulting reports is her best self-assessment. Due the questions being time-bound and having been asked multiple times in different ways, it is unlikely that she will have consciously distorted the results. So, take this is an insightful picture of her.
Get your mentee to read through the report as well. Those first impressions will give you a solid starting point.
- In your next session, you could first explore with your mentee how she feels about the results. Whether she feels the results are consistent with how she perceives herself or if there is something she cannot relate to. Remind her that it is she who answered the questions and nobody else is to be blamed.
- In a second step, you can explore how her strengths have supported her in her past successes. How has she come to where she is now with these strengths. Is she fully utilising them all?
- The third conversation could be around overusing or under utilising these strengths. There is no limit to exploring these questions, you can go as far back as you wish or look at as many successes as she wishes.
Ultimately, you will be seeing some recurring patterns. Once sufficiently having understood the past, your mentee may wish to explore how her strengths could support her in her current challenges or for a goal that she has set herself. Again, take time to explore with her how she could apply them in specific situations.
In all these conversations it is important that you see and position the strengths of your mentee as a source of power for her. She will succeed much easier if tapping into these than if trying to learn something she does not enjoy or is not good at.
Are you asking yourself why this will work even if you are not a coach or have deep knowledge of the StrengthsFinder tool or methodology? Because you are using the reports as a means to direct the conversation. And for that, you merely need to be a good observer and listener – and ask some questions. If your mentee would like to explore deeper, she is free to approach a certified Strengths Coach at any time.