Mentoring sessions are the meetings between mentor and mentee, where the advice, knowledge sharing, and problem solving all takes place.
These sessions may only take place every month or so, and there's a lot to discuss. It's therefore important for mentoring sessions to follow a structure, to ensure they stay productive and valuable for both parties.
A mentoring relationship is a two-way process. While a good mentee is commonly expected to drive the session, it's important for both people to be aligned on how the meetings are structured. It's easy to pass the time of mentoring sessions talking about different issues and topics, sharing experiences, and generally getting to know one another better. However, the purpose of mentoring is to facilitate someone's growth and see their progress. By structuring mentoring sessions, both mentor and mentee are more likely to follow up on actions, feel comfortable raising any issues, and keep the conversation focused!
How do you structure a mentoring session?
Every mentoring relationship is different, but there will typically be goals set at the beginning that the mentee wants to achieve. The mentoring will be helping them get to where they want to be, while also developing skills such as self-awareness, confidence, and good communication.
In each mentoring session, it's important that the discussions, challenges, and solutions raised are all contributing to the mentee's overall goals, to ensure progress is being made. There are simple things both mentor and mentee can do before, during and after they meet to ensure a productive mentoring session.
The day before a mentoring session:
- Mentee sends over a session agenda including their desired discussion areas, outline of current challenges, key progress updates, and any leftover actions from the last session.
- If relevant, the mentor can add any topics or points to the agenda and send it back, so that everyone is aware of the key focuses beforehand.
This helps with preparation, prioritisation, and managing expectations. For example, if a mentor sees on the agenda that their mentee has a new challenge since they last met, the mentor can think about it and come ready with ideas, rather than it being raised during the session when there's already a lot to discuss.
During the mentoring session:
- Check in – while the aim of structuring a session is to be as productive as possible, mentoring is ultimately about human connection, so it's good to allow a bit of time to catch up informally at the beginning of a session! Everyone will feel more comfortable.
- Decide on a main focus – based on the discussion areas and challenges the mentee featured on their agenda, both parties can decide on a main focus for the session. This could be outcome based, such as coming up with a plan, or exploration based, such as considering a new approach or reviewing something that hasn't worked.
- Review actions from last session – before the discussion of any new topics, the mentoring pair should review any actions or 'homework' from the last session. Note: the mentor should not 'tell off' their mentee if they didn't do something they said they would; mentoring is not a teacher / student or parent / child relationship dynamic. Rather, it should be an open and proactive discussion where they can mutually explore why an action was not completed, and decide together whether it's still a valuable action. This is also a good time to update each other on any progress, such as: "I spoke with my friend Kate in Business Development and she'd be happy to go for a coffee with you, I think you'll gain a lot from her experience coming from retail like you".
- Explore challenges – based on the agenda, the pair can then explore the challenges the mentee is currently facing. At this point, the mentor can ensure the conversation is proactive and positive, with a focus on learning as opposed to failure or weakness. It's important both parties keep in mind the agreed main focus of the session, and link any challenges back to it where possible to stay on track.
- Create a plan – off the back of the challenge discussion, it's likely they'll have begun to explore a number of solutions. Mentoring sessions can easily turn into hour long brainstorming without following a structure, so in order to be productive, they can then establish a plan that tackles the discussed challenges.
- Reflect on progress – near the end of the mentoring session, it's important to reflect on the progress the mentee has made. This could be through the discussion of key learnings, celebrating wins, and feedback.
- Actions for next session – before the session concludes, an actions list should be created of things to do before the next session, which align with the mentee's goals. The act of doing this makes both mentee and mentor accountable.
- Book next session – in order to maintain momentum, it's always good to book in your next session at the end!
Naturally, every mentoring session will vary, and that's not a bad thing! But having a structure in place will increase the likelihood of making progress, as well as knowing there's always a dedicated opportunity to raise certain things.
After the mentoring session:
- Mentee sends a follow up with the key takeaways from the session, the list of actions, and the details of the next session.
- Mentor can respond with any relevant information or links to resources that were discussed in the session that may help the mentee.
It's always good to follow up when the session is still fresh in mind, to avoid dropping the ball on anything that was agreed to.
And that's how to run a productive mentoring session! Good luck.
How to Create a Mentoring Culture in your Workplace
There’s no secret weapon when it comes to how to be happy, as much as we’d like there to be. But new research shows that relationships may be linked with happiness a little more than you might think. The London School of Economics asked 200,000 people about how certain factors affected their well-being. And the factor that caused the biggest increase in happiness? Being in a relationship. Issues like depression, anxiety, and unemployment caused the biggest dips in happiness.
So if being in a relationship can give you the biggest happiness boost, does that mean we should all be in them? Obviously, it’s not that simple. "Human beings are definitely social creatures. We are meant to have company and spend time with one another," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "We have an innate drive to pair up, settle down, and procreate. We are also very much socialized to do the same. So I think individuals who have settled into a nice relationship are generally happier than when they were single. However, people who are in an unsatisfying relationship are actually more unhappy than if they were on their own. In other words, a bad relationship is definitely worse than being alone, but being happily settled with someone probably makes for more happiness."
But What If You’re Single — And Want To Be?
I can see that if you want to be in a relationship, being in a good one can make a world of difference. But if you don’t want to be in a relationship, there’s good news, too. In fact, according to a study presented at the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention in Denver this year, single people have more fulfilled lives than married people. So it’s more about finding what works for you. Here are some other proven ways to boost your happiness level — regardless of your relationship status:
1. Floral Scents
You really do need to stop and smell the roses. According to research at Rutgers University, exposure to floral scents makes you three times more likely to be happy than those who aren’t exposed. Who thought potpourri could be so powerful?
2. Doing Something For Others
Yup — a quick way to feel better? Do something good for other people. Studies have shown that benevolent acts, like giving to charity, give you a feeling of reward and fulfillment. So you get to give back and feel better, a double-whammy.
3. Going Outside
Never underestimate the importance of being outside. You know it’ll make you feel good, right? You can just feel it in your bones. Part of the reason is that sunlight boosts your serotonin levels, which helps your mood. In fact, a study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that people who were given an hour exposure to sunlight everyday for three weeks had a better mood and reduced stress. And it wasn’t just for while they were outside — it lasted well beyond that.
So, if you’re someone who likes being in relationships then it seems like being in a healthy relationship — a good relationship, not just any old one — can be a total game-changer when it comes to your happiness. But if you don’t want to be in a relationship or you’re finding it difficult to find one that works for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to make yourself happy. Science says so.
Contrary to popular belief, our feelings and emotions don’t reside in our heart but in our brain. Recent studies show that a great part of our happiness is located in our left brain hemisphere. Each time we’re feeling excited, full of energy, positive, and hopeful, the area that presents the most neural activity is our left prefrontal cortex.
This is very interesting. Daniel Goleman talked about this in a New York Times article where he explained that disciplines such as psychology, Buddhism, and spirituality are working together in order to find answers to many questions about human beings.
In May 2000, there was a gratifying and productive meeting. Dalai Lama met with the best psychologists and neurologists at the time with one purpose in mind. It was a difficult yet practical purpose: to know how Buddhism handled negative emotions. They also wanted to find out what went on in a person’s brain when they meditated and focused on kindness, altruism, and happiness.
They met for five days in Dharamshala, India. This was a very productive meeting for one of the scientists, Dr. Richard Davidson. He’s the head of the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin and author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain. He left this meeting with a hypothesis:
“Recent research has shown that when we empathize, the brain activates many of the same networks that activate when we experience pain, physical or otherwise.”
-Dr. Richard Davidson-
Happiness is in your left brain hemisphere
Dr. Davidson is known for his research on affective neuroscience. He repeats one phrase in every single one of his conferences: the key to having a healthy life is having a healthy mind. Nowadays, he chairs the Center for Healthy Minds at the same university.
In the year 2008, he focused one of his studies on demonstrating the relationship between neuroplasticity and meditation techniques. He wanted to see if the people who had been practicing meditation techniques for a good part of their lives had a greater electric activity and improved concentration.
“Meditation gives you the wherewithal to pause, observe how easily the mind can exaggerate the severity of a setback, and resist getting drawn into the abyss.”
-Dr. Richard Davidson-
On the other hand, we can find his most interesting theories in his book The Emotional Life of Your Brain that was published in 2012. In it, he exposes that happiness is pretty much located in the left brain hemisphere. Let’s delve deeper into this idea.
Frontal lobes and our emotions
There have been many studies on the billion-neuron mass located inside our skull. Saying that happiness is located in our left brain hemisphere is a way of expressing how our positive emotions have also been developing through time.
Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick.
Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.
Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.
This is the first causal evidence using randomized trials and piece-rate working. The study, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.
During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.
Professor Oswald said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”
Dr Sgroi added: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”
Dr Proto said the research had implications for employers and promotion policies.
He said: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”
Notes to editors
We have ISDN and Globelynx facilities on campus for broadcast interviews. Please contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Senior Press and Communications Manager, University of Warwick, [email protected], 02476 150868, 07824 540863
The paper, ‘Happiness and Productivity’ by Andrew J Oswald, Eugenio Proto and Daniel Sgroi, is available to download here