How to be a great mentor
Updated: Jul 18, 2018
Being a mentor shoulders huge amounts of responsibility. Someone with less experience is putting their faith in you to guide them and provide high-level advice. You are making yourself available as a support network.
The best mentors share their knowledge and expertise with people while creating an environment for their mentees to flourish. It works both ways, too. For a successful mentor/mentee relationship, the mentor also needs to believe in the person they are teaching.
Here are some tips for becoming a great mentor and ensuring you put your mentees on the right track to success.
The chances are high that you won’t know your mentee well at the start of the relationship. That bond will come over time, but it’s important to define clear expectations from the very first interaction.
Establish the type of relationship and layout a plan to help them get to where they want to be. The best mentors know that each mentorship is different, so there is no definitive formula. But that doesn’t mean they can’t lay out the foundations for what the programme will cover.
Take a personal interest
The best mentors are invested in the success of their mentee. It’s not a simple business transaction that involves providing a service with little else attached. They display knowledge but also compassion and take an invested interest in their mentees personal life.
Sure, the mentee may have come to you for business advice and for help achieving career goals. But they only way a mentor can provide the best information is by getting to know them on a personal level - what makes their mentee tick, their likes, dislikes, etc.
People don’t like to admit to it, but failing is one of the most powerful things that can happen to humans - especially career-wise. “Fail forward” is a saying for a reason. Learning from past setbacks provides experience and helps us better solve problems in the future.
Share your failures with your mentees. Let them know that you too made mistakes on your way to success. Junior people aren’t always as forthcoming with their mistakes as they think it displays weakness. Showing where you went wrong and how you overcame can be empowering for your mentees.
Value continuous progression
Being a good mentor involves personal progression. A mentor that feels stagnant in their professional life won’t be able to offer the right type of guidance. How can they teach new things if they are unwilling to learn themselves?
Good mentors are continually learning and developing their expertise. They attend conferences and talks and participate in workshops. That zest to improve and contribute is what places them in a healthy position to be a successful mentor.
The reason a mentee is working with a mentor is to progress. They want to learn and develop their skills. While it’s important to walk before running, any success the mentee has should be acknowledged and celebrated.
Celebrating success doesn’t isn’t just recognising achievements; it also boosts the confidence of the mentee. The natural tone of the relationship will most likely veer towards one where the mentee looks for approval. Commenting on their success is a way to show them that you believe in what they are doing.
The relationship isn’t going to last forever, but mentors that have a long-term mindset are better equipped to help their mentees. By giving your mentee ownership, you are positioning them to be in a place where they can make decisions after the relationship has finished.
Long-term thinking works particularly well if they mentee is based at the same company as the mentor. The mentor should continuously think about how the mentee will act and behave when they no longer go to their mentor for advice.
Be the best
Many attributes go into the makeup of a good mentor. The experience is likely to be less rewarding for you than it is the mentee. You will still learn lots about yourself during the process, however. And, most importantly, you will set someone on the right path to a successful and rewarding career.
Mentorjam’s holistic approach to mentoring provides solutions to many different types of mentor/mentee scenarios, all the way through “from hire to retire”. Use our track templates or create your own path to successful mentoring.