When you accept the role of mentor, you have an amazing opportunity to help someone else grow and develop as a professional. By serving as a guide and resource you will be helping them to move forward in their careers. You may think that only high-level executives that have “been in the game” for ages can be a mentor, but that’s not true. Anyone can be a mentor to someone with less experience. The foundation of a mentorship is sharing knowledge and advice from your own experiences gained from traveling a similar career path.
There are five easy steps that will help you succeed in becoming a good mentor:
The first and easiest step to being a good mentor is to lead by example. It is always important to set the foundation of mentorship by being a positive role model and “practicing what you preach.”
By actually doing the things that you advocate, you establish yourself as a positive role model from day one. This will make your mentee more likely to follow your lead than if you take a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to the relationship.
Mentorships are not a “one-way street” and the second step to being a good mentor is to be available and make time for your mentee. Taking an active role as a mentor and reaching out to your mentee by calling, emailing, and scheduling lunches not only improves the strength of your relationship, but also lends to the overall success of the mentorship. Essentially, you are making yourself a consistently available resource.
But when combining two hectic schedules it can be very easy to let weeks pass without connecting. To avoid a lengthy lapse in communication, try to schedule a weekly phone call or establish a regular coffee meeting every first Tuesday of the month. Or, find something that will work for both of you.
As you get to know your mentee through regular communication, you’ll be able to pinpoint their areas of strength and weakness to see where they need the most guidance. This leads us to steps three and four of being a good mentor.
Step three is to offer your mentee encouragement in the areas in which they struggle. Be a cheerleader, help push them through the difficult times with supportive advice and take pride in their achievements. Think back to the challenges you faced along the way in your own career. Did anyone offer you particularly helpful advice and words of support? Let your mentee know that you believe in them. Sometimes simply having someone believe in you can mean the difference between success and failure.
In addition to encouragement, your mentee may have areas that need improvement. This is where step four comes in. Step four is to offer constructive criticism and advice. This may be the most difficult part of being a mentor because it’s never easy to correct someone. And some people are more sensitive to criticism than others. When you do offer constructive criticism, it is essential to remember to always focus the criticism on the behavior or activity and never the individual themselves or their character.
As your mentee grows and learns through the course of the mentorship, it’s your duty to implement step five, which is to challenge them. Encourage your mentee to expand his or her capabilities by seeking continuing education, accepting more responsibility at work, taking the initiative on group projects, or even applying for a promotion. By challenging your mentee, you are encouraging them to develop skills and abilities that will open up new opportunities to build their career.
We have all been influenced and supported by others along the way. When it’s your turn to be the mentor, follow these five steps to help your mentee achieve the level of success that you have enjoyed in your career.
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