Mentoring as Question-Asker

March 30, 2020

I’v been working in a mentorship role with a colleague recently. This is my first time in a role quite like this, so I find I’m having a lot of reflections and am immediately finding things I could do better.

One of those moments happened today. My colleague asked me about something going on in the app that they thought was a bit unexpected. Having set up the app’s boilerplate, I knew exactly where the issue was, navigated them to the problem spot, and told them what to change to get the desired result.

I immediately regretted approaching the problem this way. I’m fully confident that with some probing, I could have helped this person arrive at solving the issue on their own, rather than just dropping knowledge and walking away. I think one of my biggest goals as it relates to this whole mentoring thing is to help others feel that they’re building the skills to figure things out on their own, rather than me just telling the answer. I know from personal experience that having to struggle with an issue is definitely harder and slower, but it’s the path to real learning and skill acquisition.

I imagine I’ll write a more in-depth post about this technique later, but I’m looking forward to incorporating Socratic questioning more into my mentorship technique. I think it’s complex enough to warrant a post of it’s own, so I’ll stop here.


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