5 Ways To Be A Great Mentor
Serving as a mentor is a great honor because obviously someone else sees achievement in you that they admire and would like to learn from. I’ve had many mentoring relationships, some that did not carry the titles of Mentor/Mentee and some that were more official and did carry those titles. In the case of the later, more structured arrangement, here are some helpful tips for being a great mentor:
1.) Set desired outcomes early – In any type of relationship, disappointment can occur if expectations and goals aren’t clearly articulated from the very beginning of the relationship. In a mentoring relationship, it’s important for both parties involved to express what they desire from the mentoring process. As the mentor, it may be helpful for you to ask the mentee what they would like to get out of the process. You should clearly communicate how you would like to be of assistance to that person. You may even use examples of a previous mentoring relationship that worked out well for you, either as the mentor or the mentee.
2.) Have a plan – Set up a meeting schedule. This can be in person over coffee/ lunch or in the office. In can also take place over the phone, Skype, Google hangouts, etc. Setting up a schedule months in advance also sets the tone for the mentoring relationship and shows professionalism and dedication to the process on both ends.
3.) Be honest about your career journey. What I’ve always wanted to know from mentors are the ups AND downs of their career journey. It great to hear the good stories because they excite us and make us thrilled about the possibilities of our own successes. However, many mentees want to know about some of the struggles along the way. Be as honest as you feel comfortable being. It’s through the setbacks of life and career journey’s that we learn many of our greatest lessons!
4.) Encourage “projects” and homework – Do you recommend a book that has helped you in your career development? If so, share that with the mentee and encourage them to take notes and share them with you during your next meeting. Give them “homework” that involves various forms of goal setting, strategic planning within their profession, etc
5.) Follow up – Being asked by someone to mentor them is an honor. If you are going to start the process, make sure to be consistent and follow-up. Make arrangements to meet for coffee, phone calls etc, every couple of months or at a frequency that works with both schedules. One of the worst things that can happen in this type of professionals development relationship is for either the mentor or mentee to reach out to the other and repeatedly get no response. Remember, mentoring only works if you do!
Do you mentor others? If not, what are you waiting for?!? Make it known in your company that you are available for mentoring. If you don’t work in a large company, be willing to mentor others through your volunteer efforts and other community involvement. Offer opportunities for mentees to come shadow you in your office. Don’t be afraid to Pay it forward!
Dr. Carmen April is a young entrepreneur and community leader recognized as a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty Award Recipient and is a 2014 Graduate of the New Leaders Council Institute – Nashville Chapter. Dr. April is available for speaking engagements on Entrepreneurship for College Students and Young Professionals.