Helping Your Advisee Through Tough Times
Often a mentor is the first person a troubled person will turn to when going through a tough time. Although most mentors aren’t trained to be counselors, they can be an effective first step in helping someone resolve a problem.
Here is a strategy that you might use in helping an advisee get through tough times.
- Be alert to any problems your advisee may be having. If you are a good reader of people, you will have a sense that something isn’t right.
- Find an opportunity to see if there is something wrong. Generally this will be a private moment when others aren’t around. Ask: “Is there a problem I can help you with? You don’t seem to be yourself lately.”
- If your advisee begins to open up, just listen. Don’t say anything for a while. If your advisee starts to cry, hand him/her a tissue as a simple matter-of-fact gesture.
- Follow up with questions seeking more information. Don’t be judgmental. The purpose of your questions is to think through next steps.
- Make an assessment of whether your advisee should take advantage of the organization’s employee assistance program. Also assess whether there is anything you can do to help (e.g. time off, reassignment of duties).
- Outline a strategy for next steps. In most cases you will want to get some guidance from a counselor and facilitate having your advisee get professional help.
- Support your advisee through the implementation of the strategy. This will generally involve a series of personal meetings.
While there can be tough situations to work through, they can also be very rewarding because you are helping someone through a very tough moment in their life. One note of caution: If you become good at this, you may find others turning to you for help. A sympathetic, caring person is often rare in today’s organizations.