Good mentoring relationships can be richly rewarding, not only for the person being mentored, but for the mentor too.
Mentors can, among other things, provide exceptional learning experiences for their mentees and, in doing so, expand their mentees’ awareness, insight and perspective.
Being a mentor is a commitment and takes a willingness to share skill knowledge and expertise.
A good mentor
- Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role mode
- Takes a personal interest in the mentoring relationship
- Is an advocate for the industry
- Values ongoing learning and growth
- Provides guidance and constructive feedback
- Is respected by colleagues
- Values the opinions of others
- Motivates others by setting a good example
As a mentor, you should be available, patient, and a good listener.
Available: Do discuss with your mentor mutual expectations for the relationship—how it will work, what it will look like, preferred method of communications (and the frequency)
Determine the length of time you will meet and the frequency of your meetings. If you choose to discuss matters over the phone or through email, establish parameters for those methods of communication as well. Set boundaries up front relating to confidentiality and time commitments.
Patient: Much like parenting, mentoring can be a satisfying, but also long-term and trying, endeavor, The mentee needs and wants direction, often times this requires a bit of constructive feedback. Remember, not all feedback is helpful. A good mentor knows this and will deliver feedback in a way that will help their mentee gain insight to further develop specific qualities or skills.
Listen. One of your jobs a mentor is to provide advice and encouragement, but in order to do so, you need to make the time to listen and understand the situation. Give mentees your full attention. Then pause. It can be very tempting for a mentor to just jump in and offer advice before a mentee has actually asked for it, especially when you’ve dealt with a similar situation yourself.
Being a sounding board for your mentee, allowing them to discuss the situation with you, then helping them to think through the situation by asking them questions to draw out the consequences of various actions, is always more empowering for a mentee than advising them what to do. It helps them work through the issue and come to their own conclusions. By doing so, you ultimately help them to learn to think through issues themselves and trust their own judgment, both valuable life skills.
by Angela Carter