Mentors and mentoring have been around for many, many years with the idea of ‘taking someone under one’s wing’ recorded since the times of Greek mythology. A mentor is a trusted advisor, teacher and a friend. A mentor guides, advises, at times remonstrates, but is there to support the mentee. In many facets of business mentoring is a fundamental step forward for growth, transition, validation and can be a powerful asset for Business Owners.
I’d like to introduce Amanda Johnson from Virtual Assistance Coaching & Training (VACT). Amanda is a Mentor to people who are thinking about taking steps to become a Virtual Assistant (VA), or who are already a VA and are looking for guidance and support. I’m in Amanda’s Mentoring programme through VACT, and I asked her a few questions about her approach to mentoring.
Hi Amanda – what is your role as a mentor, and how is it different to coaching?
I personally offer a hybrid of coaching, training and mentoring for the clients I work with. A coach is very much interested in the task aspects of the work you do together, do x and you should achieve y. Where as in my mentoring role, I am looking at the person as a whole and so that could include personal or professional issues that are intrinsically linked to the business. I try not to market myself as one or the other, as every business is different and will need different things at different times and its great to be able to mix the 2 and help the individual get to where they want to go.
Coaching tends to be very short term and relative to a particular thing. While mentoring is always long term. Mentoring, to be successful, requires time in which both mentor and mentee can learn about one another and build upon that relationship of trust to create an environment in which the mentee can feel secure in sharing the real issues that impact his or her success. Successful mentoring relationships last nine months to a year which is why my Awesome VA Mentoring Programme is 12 months.
How long have you been mentoring VAs?
Officially since Summer 2014, but unofficially from the moment I took my first associate. However, I have experience of coaching and mentoring that spans right through my military career – so I have been doing both of these things for over 27 years!
What are the problems or reasons why people seek out a mentor?
Each of my clients comes with a different set of issues they are trying to resolve, for some it could be they are trying to break their next income goal, for others they lack confidence in their abilities as a Business Owner, they can do “the doing” side of their business but don’t know how to run a business. Then there are some who have fallen into the industry as a result of redundancy and they are so bogged down by doing the doing side of the business, they haven’t really thought about how they will build and grow.
When should people seek out a mentor – and how do they go about this?
Mentors can be useful whether you are stuck in a rut or at a transitional point in your career.
A mentor should deliver value to you, so when you work with a mentor you ideally want the following from the relationship:
- Network of contacts
- Tailored training and support
- Reaching your full potential
- A helping hand
The most obvious way of finding a mentor is through your network – both on and offline. Ask for recommendations, read testimonials – interview the mentor, see if you “know, like and trust them” – they need to be an integral part of your life. Ask lots and lots of questions: A good trainer, coach or mentor will be happy to answer your questions about their training, expertise and experience – and it’s these things that you need to clarify, in order to make the right choice for you.
What do you consider a success as a Mentor?
Success is subjective and it is not about whether I deem the mentoring successful but that the person I am working with feels their investment in time, effort and money was worthwhile.
The goals for each of my Mentees are very different and so for me, success is linked to them achieving their goals whatever they may be – so if that’s developing confidence, breaking that income goal, getting clear direction and guidance, having a safe and secure place to share their failures and their successes – then I feel that the job I am doing is worthwhile and valid.
Ultimately, I want the people I work with to know that there is someone who believes in them; who is there to guide them on the right path, for the best possible outcome for them. When I have done that I am a success but more importantly the person I am working with is a success.
Thanks very much Amanda for sharing your thoughts on the power of mentoring.
You can find out more about Amanda and how to find out more about Mentoring with Amanda via the following: