A great mentor can make a huge difference in a young professional’s career. Mentors can offer valuable advice, and can help a mentee overcome challenges and remain motivated during difficult times. Today we’re going to talk a bit more about what makes a great mentor, so be sure to catch up on part one. Now that we’re all caught up, let’s get right into it.
Tell Your Story
As a mentor, you possess certain wisdom gained from your experiences. When a mentee tells you about a problem they’re having or a challenge they’d like to overcome, you might be reminded of similar obstacles from your own past. Being able to relate to a mentee on this level will help build trust, and you’ll be able to speak from a place of honesty and compassion.
When sharing your experiences with a mentee, it’s okay to be vulnerable. In fact, we learn the most through mistakes and missteps, so don’t be afraid to share your own. This will help make a mentee more comfortable talking about their own mistakes or shortcomings, which is the first step towards improvement. One of the greatest lessons a young professional can learn is that we all face struggles, so having that openness and honesty in a mentor-mentee relationship is incredibly important.
Don’t Make Assumptions
In the beginning of a mentor-mentee relationship, it can be easy to draw conclusions based on early conversations with a mentee. For example, they may explain that they have trouble communicating with other members of their team. Here, you may assume that your mentee needs to work on their communication skills; however, if you make the effort to learn as much as you can about the situation, you may realize the trouble stems from a toxic workplace environment.
Taking on a mentee is a big responsibility, and it’s imperative that you take the time to really get underneath the surface. By asking follow up questions and listening carefully, you may uncover new details about a problem or situation. This will help you to provide the best possible solutions, and you’ll avoid making hasty assumptions based on vague or otherwise incomplete information.
Find New Opportunities
There will be times when you’re not actively communicating with or meeting with your mentee. During these times, it’s important to keep your mentee in mind and seek out new opportunities for them. If you recently learned about an upcoming networking event that would be perfect for your mentee, tell them about it. If you realized one of your network connections works for a company that your mentee talks about often, put them in contact with one another.
If you’ve been working with a mentee for a certain amount of time, you should be aware of their challenges and any areas in which they need to make improvements. Look for opportunities that require a mentee to directly engage with such challenges, or that will help them develop skills they need to work on. If you and your mentee work for the same company, consider including them in projects that would be beneficial to their professional development.
As you navigate the mentor-mentee relationship, provide regular feedback. Most obviously, this can be done when a mentee achieves a goal or makes progress with developing a skill or overcoming a challenge. Positive feedback will help your mentee build confidence, and will motivate them to keep pressing on in their career.
Along with positive feedback, it’s your responsibility to deliver constructive criticism. It’s important that you don’t come off as judgmental, so if you’ve based the mentor-mentee relationship on openness and honesty, it will be much easier to provide constructive criticism in a way that is beneficial to a mentee. The goal here is to help your mentee set high expectations, while being comfortable with hearing constructive criticism and harnessing it in a positive way.
Throughout the mentor-mentee relationship, you’ll be tackling problems, negotiating obstacles, and dealing with a mentee’s fears and struggles—in other words, there will be some stressful moments. Being serious about instilling good values, knowledge, and perseverance into a mentee is incredibly important; however, it’s equally important to celebrate their achievements and have some light moments.
When getting to know your mentee, you should take notice of their hobbies and interests. Having this knowledge can help you if you decide to send your mentee a gift when they’ve achieved a goal or made notable progress in their career. Keep in mind that depending on your mentee’s preferences, some nice words of encouragement might be all they need to remain excited and motivated.
It’s worth mentioning that if you’re thinking of becoming a mentor, you should consider whether you’ve got the time and energy to do so. The worst thing you could do is take a mentee under your wing, only to realize you can’t provide the guidance and support that they need. If you’re confident that you’ve got what it takes to be a great mentor, put yourself out there—the mentor-mentee relationship can be a very rewarding experience.
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