Mentorship Is A Partnership
Often, people involved in a mentorship erroneously believe that the mentor should always be at the giving end. At the same time, the mentee stays at the receiving end. This is the traditional state of the relationship. However, it needs equal involvement and commitment from both partners.
Your work as a coach is not only to give pieces of advice and words of wisdom alone; part of your job is to hear out your mentees. Most of them aren't psyched by the advice you may have to give, and some of them are only interested in benefiting from your experience.
Treat this relationship as a partnership where both parties contribute to the discussion. Irrespective of how seemingly ignorant you think your protégé may be on a topic, their active participation is essential for excellent results.
It is their life you're dealing with, after all. Push them hard enough to express themselves whenever you call them for a session. Most such experiences end badly, mainly because of unmet expectations from either side. Let your understudy do the talking most of the time while you listen.
Ask what they expect from the entire process. Do they want to be fit for leadership? Do they want to change industries? Ask about short, medium and long-term goals. Midway into the relationship, their expectations or priorities may change.
So you need to check up on their expectations regularly. Ask them questions like: "Has anything changed regarding your goals?" "Are you still on board with our previous plans?" Make them understand it is perfectly okay if they change their minds.
Most people will feel uncomfortable sharing a change of plans with their mentors because they think they will frown upon it. Maybe an understudy of yours had always wanted to make upper management of human resources. And suddenly thought it would be better to switch to the IT department because the pay is much better.
As a guide, you may feel that they have derailed months or years of mutual relationship efforts in that regard. While this may be true, it's not in your place to frown upon their decision. Your protégés will always have a personal agenda, limitations, values, and aspirations. Try to know as much of those as you can. That will help you understand their actions and inactions more appropriately.
Remember, you're just there to guide and not make career decisions for them. Your job is to lie out the variables and the odds involved; the ultimate decision is in the hands of your mentees. Try understanding why they might be switching. Offer them a clear and objective analysis of the realities on the ground.
Don't push them into what you believe is better for them. Instead, lay out their options in the most objective way possible. It is critical to partner with them and not continually tell them what to do.