As a mentor, it's important to make sure that we are dealing with the real issues a mentee brings to us and not the symptoms. I recommend a simple three step process in asking questions that is found in our workbook "Training in Mentoring Relationships".
Step 1: Asking exploratory questions like: "What do you understand the issue to be?", "What tells you that your assessment is correct?". These questions help uncover the issues by having the mentee think through the issue with your guidance.
Step 2: Ask empowering questions like: "What strategies come to mind when looking at this situation?", "What do you see as possible solutions here?", "What forces may hinder you from resolving this issue?" These questions involve the mentee directly in resolving issues rather than relying on the mentor to provide them.
Step 3: Asking processing questions like: "Were the outcomes what you expected? Why or why not?", "What have you learned from this experience?", "What surprised you about what happened?". Asking these questions after a mentee has attempted the solution they arrived at in Step 2 allows both partners to assess and learn from what was done.
Three simple steps that can help you help your partner grow.