How to Become a Great Mentor
Mentoring is a common practice for transferring knowledge and promoting best practices at work. As well it is an effective way to develop new leaders. A great mentor sees her mentee as a person, not just an employee. She knows enough about their personal life to understand the external factors that impact their work, and cares about their happiness. A great mentor is honest and unafraid to tell you hard truths about yourself and your work. Here are some tips on how you can be a great mentor to someone.
Listen Well First, Ask, Then Advise
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. A mentee isn’t an empty vessel into which you pour your knowledge. It’s unfair to them if you drone on and on, taken with your own brilliance. Hear what the mentee has to say before giving your opinion. Query them on their point of view. They bring insights and perspectives which you may not yet appreciate.
Empower Them to Make Their Own Decisions
Telling the protégé what to do right away would deprive them of thinking through challenges to derive solutions. It wouldn’t allow them to learn by trial and error. Never mind that, wise as you are, you might not know every answer. Remember to follow through with their progress and be there for them when needed.
Be Accountable and Committed To Each Other
Trust, commitment, and accountability are foundations of an effective mentoring relationship. If you promise to look into an issue or provide a resource to your mentee, do so according to the terms of your commitment. By the same token expect them to meet their pledges to you. Give them homework and mention the consequences to incompleteness. On the other hand, let them express disappointment if you fail to deliver on your undertakings.
Open Doors and Introduce Them to Your Network
If you have connections your mentee would benefit from and your protégé shows that they are serious about learning and growing, introduce them to appropriate people in your network. Internally that could include senior staff or specialists. Externally it might be professionals at suppliers, associations or at other companies.
Care About the Relationship and Be Compassionate
To provide valuable guidance and advice that is well received, it is necessary to first understand the mentee’s needs, wants and feelings. So, if you can’t muster a sincere desire right from the beginning, you’ll do better to find a more suitable fit, because you may do more harm than good. This can only come in the form of deep and implicit empathy. So invest yourself in your mentee and you’ll get so much more out of the experience.