Methods of Mentoring

//Your Guide To...

Methods of Mentoring

Methods of Mentoring

Your Guide To... Methods of Mentoring

Did you know there are different approaches that you can take as a mentor to better support your mentee at Step Up? Whether you knew it or not, you may already be utilizing them in your everyday life –both personally and professionally.

Demonstrating authenticity, collaboration, and companionship and going into each mentoring experience with an open mind is key to building a healthy, trusting relationship between you and your mentee – but there are many ways to utilize your unique strengths as a mentor to make your experience (and your mentee’s experience) more pointed and personal.

At Step Up, we focus on Developmental and Instrumental mentoring approaches. Here’s everything you need to know about these mentoring methods and how you can use them to your advantage.

Developmental Mentoring: Building Relationships First

The approach of Developmental Mentoring focuses on fostering a relationship before diving into skill-building activities. When you engage in Developmental Mentoring, you’re empowering your mentee to take charge of their social, emotional, and cognitive development. It's about growing together, supporting each other, and celebrating every milestone along the way.

Instrumental Mentoring: Goal-Driven Success

The approach of Instrumental Mentoring focuses on goal-directed activities. It’s all about setting ambitious goals and working together to achieve them, with skill development taking center stage. As the mentoring relationship progresses, the interpersonal connection between mentor and mentee naturally deepens.

Instrumental Mentoring is perfect for those looking to build self-efficacy and master new skills. Whether it's supporting your mentee in acing a test, learning a new hobby, or developing professional competencies, this approach ensures your mentee will have the guidance and support to succeed.

Prescriptive Mentoring: A Cautionary Tale

While we love innovative mentoring approaches, we’re also aware of the pitfalls of Prescriptive Mentoring. This style involves the mentor focusing on their own goals for the mentee rather than what the mentee truly wants or needs. While it can include goal-driven activities, like tutoring, it focuses on more strict guidance based on solely the mentor’s perspective, experience, and personal opinions.

At Step Up, we steer clear of Prescriptive Mentoring. Why? Because it may not always be realistic or developmentally appropriate for the mentee. We believe in fostering independence and personal growth, rather than imposing rigid structures that might not align with the mentee’s unique path.

Whether you're a first-time mentor or a seasoned pro, refreshing your mentorship skills is a must. Here's what to keep in mind as you prepare for mentorship sessions:

1. Show up for mentees as an advisor and confidante – not an all-knowing authority figure. One of the greatest things about mentorship is that both the mentor and mentee can learn a lot from each other. Come ready to listen, validate, and have constructive conversations.

2. Show curiosity about your mentees' interests and experiences. Learning specifics about mentees helps you build rapport and develop robust relationships with them.

3.Understand differences between you and your mentee. The mentees you work with may have opinions and feelings that differ from your own. All of us bring a unique set of identities, perspectives, and experiences that shape the way we see the world. Recognize the validity of mentees' feelings and take a conscious, healthy interest in learning about how others see the world differently from you.

4. Use active listening skills when you engage with mentees. Be present, show you are following along, and ask relevant questions about what mentees are saying.

5. Ask open-ended questions (questions beginning with who, what, when, where, why, and how) instead of yes or no questions. This keeps the conversation flowing and encourages mentees to speak at length about their experiences and interests.

6. Don't be afraid of silence. Sometimes, your mentee might need time to think through their idea or work up the courage to speak. Simply being present and waiting for their response opens the door to new ideas and conversations.

7. Know that trust takes time. It may take time for some mentees to open up to you, but don't be discouraged if a student is quiet or shy.

8. Mentees care and appreciate the time you are putting into mentorship! Step Up high school girls and young adults are not required to attend any events – so all of them are choosing to be there and learn with you. That said, be sure you can commit to attending the full duration of the mentorship session!

At Step Up, we introduce our girls to mentors in various industries who can leverage their knowledge to equip mentees with the knowledge they need to achieve their dreams of success. Mentor once, and you’re empowering a girl to consider and plan for their career journey.

Thank you for Stepping Up and supporting the next generation of leaders.

View the recording of the live virtual session here: 2024 Mentor Training: Methods of Mentoring (

Note: All of Step Up’s training is informed by the National Mentoring Organization MENTOR’s Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, for more information view here - Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring

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