7 mentoring lessons I learned as a Made Coach for MTV

No matter your profession, at some point along the way, your role is to coach. You might be tempted to think it’s just the other person who is growing. But, I’ve discovered the process changes me for the better, too. In one of my more visible coaching positions, I learned a few valuable lessons that help me mentor more effectively today.

I was a Made Coach on MTV’s Made. It was a 6-week experiment in motivation that had a real start, end and result–visible still today. For those unfamiliar, Made takes a teenager with a dream and pairs them with a coach who can help them achieve it.

From my time on Made, I gained 7 valuable insights I still use today. If you’re in a coaching role, they just might help you, too.

  1. Find the why. Right from the start, find out why someone wants to achieve a particular goal or perform a certain job. To make money is not good enough. There’s a deeper reason. That reason could be about how they see themselves, the contribution they know they can make, or the joy they get out of doing something … or anything else. Ask the question “why” and then build your coaching method on the answer.
  2. Raise the bar. Even people without a lot of experience can achieve more than they think they can if they put the work in to try hard enough and long enough. Sometimes you run across people who won’t try if they think they cannot be instantly successful. If you coach a person like that, don’t let them get away with that. Make imperfection okay. With each mistake comes learning, improvement and the expectation to get better.
  3. Realize little steps are big. It’s usually one small change consistently implemented that yields the biggest results. So while it may seem insignificant when someone simply improves their written communication in email, let’s say, that one small act will earn them more respect, increase the confidence others have in them and free up time they would have otherwise spent clarifying poorly written emails. So, it’s actually not so little. It’s big.
  4. Don’t sugar coat it. Be direct with feedback and what needs to happen to improve. I find many women (myself included) don’t like to be as direct as our male counterparts because we perceive it as bossy. It’s not. When you’re clear with someone about their performance, it’s a form of respect because you are expressing you believe it’s possible for them to improve.
  5. Believe they can. People sense whether or not you believe in them. Your body language is a dead giveaway. Nothing is more motivating than working with someone who treats you as if you are more capable than you really are. People rise to the occasion.
  6. Tap in to passion points. We are all “ands” – a PR practitioner and a blues music lover. A digital account executive and a guitar player. What does the person you are coaching love to do when they are not at work? That’s a passion point and there are times it can be harnessed to achieve work-related goals.
  7. Go all in. Find a reason to really genuinely like the person you are coaching. Can you coach someone you don’t like? Not effectively, at least in my opinion. People know when you’re celebrating them and when you’re not. Celebrate those you coach. They’ll feel more supported and you’ll both see better results.

And, from my time on Made … well, I’m Facebook friends with Lillie, the 15-year-old, I coached who is now 25.  I am overjoyed to see the fully-grown fruit bearing trees from the seeds I planted in her 10 years ago.





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