Think back to a time when you had someone who was a confidant, a role model, a person that led the way for you, and helped you in some way…
Wasn’t it a nice feeling knowing you had someone you could count on to help you navigate life’s moments? You had a mentor!
Many of us have had someone who was a mentor at one time or another. An older sibling, your mother, your father, a teacher, your first boss. The opportunities are endless to form that mentor/mentee relationship.
What does it take to be a GREAT mentor?
Not every one wants to be a mentor. So the first step is to have the desire to mentor someone. A mentor should be eager to teach and willing to invest time and energy into another person. There should also be a connection between the mentor and mentee. The dynamic is very important because a mentor also needs to provide honest and direct feedback. A trusting relationship must be built so the mentee understands the feedback is for their benefit and not seen as negative.
Top qualities of a good mentor are
To be a mentor, you need to have extensive knowledge and experience in your field, having learned from practice and applied principles yourself. This way you can honestly say you know from experience when you offer feedback and instruction. Knowing people and the ability to teach at different levels helps. If you don’t understand what your mentee needs from you, there is a gap in the process. Your job is to help them grow!
Mentors are an integral part of many organizations. You will increase your mentee’s confidence level, reassuring them that they are doing a good job, and encourage them in their thought process, getting out of their comfort zone, and taking initiatives. As a mentor you will be passing down your wisdom and giving them a framework for handling situations. The mentee will still plan their career path, and the mentor helps them achieve their goals with coaching, and what they need help with.
Ideally the dynamic will be mutual.
Sharing your thoughts and desires for the mentor/mentee will create a mutually dynamic relationship. It should not be a one sided thing. It takes effective communication, constructive criticism, and no judgement on either side. Clear communication, trust, and respect are key elements of a making this relationship effective.
Your mentee will learn just as much from their mistakes as they do their successes.
Don’t focus on the negatives. Neither party will be perfect, and shouldn’t be judged. While pointing out mistakes or ways something could be improved is needed, highlighting the positive is a win too! Empathy is important so your mentee knows you can relate to them and understand their feelings.
Note that not everyone works and learns at the same pace. Your mentee might be quick to pick up some things, yet have more challenges with other tasks. Work with the strengths your mentee has and nourish the areas that need more guidance.
If you are looking for a mentee or a mentor, don’t be shy. Reach out and ask someone!