May 21, 2021

Best practices for remote mentorship in 2021

by Gabby

It’s no surprise that after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world shifted everything online to keep functioning. It didn’t matter who you were or what you did (except if you’re essential personnel). Most of the world was forced to work from home remotely. While the pros and cons of remote working are debatable, that’s not the topic of our conversation today. Every industry has to reinvent itself to survive the pandemic, but one specific program that’s facing disturbance is mentorship. Face-to-face conversations are a pretty major part of most mentorship programs, and due to the lack of physical contact permitted during the pandemic, we have to look for new ways to go about things.

In this article, we’re going to talk about different techniques and practices that can help you continue mentorship remotely in the best possible way. We’re going to be looking at both literal and figurative meanings of mentorship here. The figurative meaning being indirect mentorship between a company owner and employees, a teacher and a student, etc. Let’s jump right into it.


Understand the Mentee’s Mentality


The first thing necessary for remote mentorship is to understand how the pandemic and the remote workings of the world are affecting your mentee’s mental health. How are they dealing with things? Are they have difficulty adjusting to this new regime that none of us has had to experience before? If so, it’s extremely important to be understanding and provide the support necessary. We’re in 2021, and most people have adapted well to remote proceedings. However, you can’t expect your mentee to be a part of the majority and just be okay with such a drastic change. Maybe they were doing the old ‘fake it till you make it and still haven’t been able to adapt. If this is the case, you need to give them the space required and, most importantly, help them feel comfortable getting mentored remotely. If someone can’t function well working or studying online, their discomfort getting mentored similarly will be immeasurable.


Establish Realistic Expectations


This practice is sort of interconnected to the one above. If your mentee is facing difficulties adjusting to the new system, you have to manage your expectations into something more achievable. You can’t expect them to perform as they would in a physical environment. They’re moving from face-to-face to mentorship software. Their performance will be tremendously affected. For some, the effect will be positive. But, for most, the effect will be negative, at least until they’re a bit more comfortable functioning with the new developments. It’s important that you, as a mentor, don’t expect too much from them. Your expectations should have changed as soon as your remote mentorship ventures began. But, if they haven’t, it’s better late than never.


Check-In Regularly


There’s no denying that during quarantine, some of us felt the loneliest we’ve ever been. The world was forced away from the people they loved the most. If this did not affect you, you’re one of the fortunate ones who were able to remain in a positive headspace. People are suffering direly because of it, and they’re looking for ways to fix that loneliness.

A good example facilitating our reasoning would be the success of Among Us. The game was out in 2018 but only got popular during 2020 and became the biggest party game the world has ever seen. While there were definitely other factors at play, one of the most important ones was the fact that people wanted a friendly activity with their friends that could restore the communication gap time away had insinuated.

At times like these, it’s important to teach your mentee that they’re not alone. Be their friend during remote mentorship and be a person they can talk to and confide in. Folks look for friends everywhere. Make sure you’re there when you’re needed. Even if there’s no session scheduled or if you’re not supposed to be talking, drop a text asking about their day. Show some interest in their activities. You’d be amazed at what just a few messages of care can do for another person’s day.


Fill in the Silence


We’ve talked about how people are starting to adjust to the shift to remote activities. However, one thing that people definitely haven’t shifted away from is the awkward silences. Students pray that the teacher doesn’t ask them to turn on their cameras and talk. Employees dread hearing their names being called in a meeting. They’re not doing anything new that they haven’t before. The difference is that they’re doing it online and don’t have the social skills required to be confident during online calls.

Similarly, if your remote mentoring session constantly challenges the mentee to talk and carry the conversation, things could get seriously depressing for them. Considering the fact that a lot of people go for mentorship programs just to become more confident with themselves and repair think chink in their armour, expecting them to carry conversations is a huge burden for them. Instead, try your best to fill in the gaps of silence yourself. You can jot down a few talking points before your remote mentorship sessions to ensure that you always have something to talk about and there’s no awkward silence between your conversations. Getting help or mentoring isn’t easy for everyone. By keeping the conversations going, you’re doing your mentee a huge favour that they will definitely appreciate in the long run.

However, it’s important to figure out the balance. Continuing conversations might be important, but it’s very easy to slip into the “talks too much” category. Give your mentee the room to conversate as well and ensure that the talk is a two-way street.


Give Room to Discuss Shortcomings


Productivity is at an all-time low due to people getting stuck at COVID-19. Some are rushing through Udemy courses, learning loads of new skills, working out to be in the best shape they ever have. While others are just sitting idle the entire day playing Call of Duty while munching on Doritos. There’s no one in between these two situations. It’s important to discuss these types of things with your mentee to see what problems they’re facing. Try to optimize their daily schedule and help them bring back a bit of productivity into their routine. We can’t emphasize it enough that people have not faced a pandemic like this in the past. This is the first time our generation is facing a global illness with such a lethal severity. The majority of folks have settled into their habit of working, going to school, etc., so naturally that they don’t know how to function without it. You have to get your mentee through these times and introduce some sort of productivity back into their lives.


Accept Reverse Mentorship


The final thing worth mentioning is the factor of reverse mentorship. Reverse mentorship means that apart from what you have to teach your mentee, there’s loads of stuff you can learn from your mentee as well. They might not have any specific sort of skill that you can gain from them. However, working with them will bring new insight into your brain about your own skillset. Listen to the mentee and notice how they’re responding to your ways. With their feedback, you can improve yourself as a mentor and work on your leadership to improve the experience for the current and future mentees to come.

However, welcoming reverse mentorship is easier said than done, especially when it’s remote mentorship that we’re talking about. It’s hard for folks to listen to a face on the internet and change themselves because of it. They’ll face tons of issues with you and your personality. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a fault in you. It just means that there is some factor about your personality that isn’t working with your mentees.


Closing Thoughts


So, in conclusion, we can say without a doubt that even though remote mentorship is difficult, it’s not impossible. There are tons of mentorship software available on the internet that can make it that much easier for you to deal with several mentees at once. A good example of such mentorship software is Teamflect. Teamflect is a state-of-the-art platform for 1-on-1 interactions that you can use for your mentees. It doesn’t matter how many mentees you have. Our mentorship software will ensure that you have the tools at your disposal to deal with the remote challenges you might be facing.

this blog post is written by Melissa from Teamflect

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