Being asked to be someone’s mentor is exciting but can also feel overwhelming. You may wonder if you’re qualified to guide this person’s development.
Effective mentoring has many components, and the best mentors take the time to understand them. Here’s everything you need to know about mentoring to help you decide if it’s a step you want to take.
What Is The Role of a Mentor?
A mentor is an experienced advisor that offers guidance to someone (the mentee) who can learn from it.
The nature of a mentor-mentee relationship is different and depends on the mentee’s needs and the time mentors have to give. Some mentorship relationships are short-term, over one or two coffee chats, while others can be long-term and span years.
In general, an effective mentor offers the following:
- Advice on professional development
- Encouragement as needed
- Personal development strategies
- Support on the mentee’s journey
- Help with goal setting and aspirations
- Resources as needed
Mentors are trusted voices of reason who serve to better the lives of their mentees.
Who Can Be a Mentor?
Almost anyone can be a mentor in one capacity or another. But, there are two qualifications you need.
To be an effective mentor, you need relevant experience and success in areas your mentee is aspiring towards. You also need strong communication skills like that of a coach.
Words to describe a good mentor include:
Ask yourself if you have the learnings and experience to teach someone, and consider how effective a coach you are.
Does listening come easily to you? Is it natural for you to offer timely advice? Are you okay with watching someone make mistakes and helping them improve from there?
Why Is Mentorship Important?
Effective mentoring is vastly beneficial in the workplace and beyond. It creates strong interpersonal relationships, helps with teamwork, and boosts employee retention.
Interestingly, 76% of people feel mentorship is essential, but only 37% have a mentor. 61% of mentor-mentee relationships develop naturally, with only 14% starting with a direct mentorship ask.
Mentorship numbers are growing. MentorcliQ, a mentorship software provider, found that Fortune 500 companies with mentoring programs outperformed the competition during the pandemic. 30% of companies say they’ve upped their investment in these programs since the pandemic.
Employee retention rates are around 72% for those with mentors, compared to just 49% for those without.
Effective mentoring should be a priority everywhere, benefiting employees and businesses alike.
How To Be a Mentor: 7 Considerations
Mentoring someone for the first time and wondering how to be a mentor? Here are 7 critical components of a successful mentoring relationship.
- Set Expectations (Together) From The Start
Every mentorship relationship is unique. When you’re first getting started, discuss those expectations and make sure you’re ready for them. Being a mentor can be a significant commitment.
Here are some considerations:
- Does the mentoring relationship have a finite end?
- What metrics will you use to measure success?
- How often will you meet?
- What resources will you provide?
- What should the mentee do on their own?
- How involved does the mentee want the mentor to be?
Setting expectations allows for an effective mentoring relationship where everyone feels respected and heard.
- Get to Know Your Mentee
Effective mentoring is about getting to know the mentee as well as possible. Ask as many questions as you can think of.
Try to understand your mentee’s:
- Working style
- Feedback style
- Likes and dislikes
- Strengths and weaknesses
The better you know your mentee, the better you can coach them in a way that makes sense and supports their goals.
- Understand What You Want Out of Mentoring
Mentor-mentee relationships are two-way streets. To best help someone, you must understand what you want out of the relationship. How can being an advisor help you learn and improve?
Consider how taking on a mentorship role will improve your leadership skills, personally and professionally, and select a mentee accordingly.
- Address Any Issues Promptly
No relationship is perfect. When issues arise, effective mentoring means addressing them immediately.
It’s up to you as the mentor to call out these issues and have the challenging conversions as needed – hopefully, that won’t happen often!
- Help With the Small Stuff
Mentors love providing general advice and broad insights – rightfully so! But effective mentoring also means helping with minor questions as they arise.
Mentors can help with questions like how to craft an email, dress for a specific event, or lead an excellent presentation.
- Know When to Listen
Sometimes, people just want to talk and aren’t seeking input. As a mentor, you want to give your mentee a judgment-free space to speak their mind.
If you aren’t sure whether your mentee is seeking your input, just ask!
- Let The Mentee Make Their Own Decisions
Although it may be tempting, mentorship does not mean telling your mentee what to do. Mentors empower and guide, but they don’t direct.
Offer your best advice when requested, but accept that your mentee can – and should – make their own decisions and mistakes. Remain supportive, and help your mentee analyze what went wrong and how they can improve.
Ultimately, letting mentees make their own decisions and mistakes is empowering, and they’ll learn much faster.
Find A Company That Values Mentorship
Effective mentoring is only possible in an organization that values it. If you want to be the best mentor possible, seek a company that supports your doing that.
If you’re unhappy with your current organization’s efforts towards mentorship, Jennings Executive would love to match you with a business more aligned with your mentoring values. Learn more today!
Related: What is an Executive Search Firm? Here’s Everything You Need to Know