by Jim Hughes
Being a mentor is no doubt a difficult job. It takes certain skills, along with compassion, empathy, knowledge, and great desire to help another person overcome challenges and feel empowered to unleash their potential. You’ve probably had a few mentors in the past. They could be your college professor, your first boss, colleague, even a family member or friend. This person helped you navigate the challenging path towards your career goals and has given you all the encouragement and motivation you need to keep going, no matter how difficult things might be.
And now, it’s your turn. It takes certain personal attributes to become a good mentor. Here are some of the most important qualities of an effective mentor and how you can develop them.
Show enthusiasm in the field
A good mentor exhibits great enthusiasm towards helping someone succeed. Your mentee should feel connected to you and the organization. They should find meaning in their work and love their job. It is important that you earn the trust of your mentee and the only way to do that is to make them feel that you are excited to help them out, and you’re with them as they overcome professional challenges in their career.
Never stop learning
Becoming an effective mentor takes more than just positive personal attributes. It also requires skills. Just like any profession, mentoring is a field that grows and evolves over time. There are new skills and best practices that make you even more effective at mentoring. Thus, you should never stop learning. Attend workshops, training seminars, and conferences that will help you improve your mentoring skills. Yes, they will cost you money but education is your best investment. Thankfully, there are means to cover the costs, including personal loans online for training. Or, you can ask your organization if they provide similar training for free.
Always prepare before each mentoring session
A good mentor comes to a session mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared. You want to earn your mentee’s confidence and to do that, you should have a clear understanding of the actual challenges they are dealing with, or at least their performance metrics, along with a plan on how you are going to help them. Always, always prepare ahead of a mentoring/coaching session. Have everything ready including scorecards, coaching log, etc… Outline the key points you want to talk about and have a plan on how you are going to discuss such matters with your mentee.
Demonstrate keenness about things inside and outside work
In addition to upgrading your skills and knowledge in mentoring, you should also continue learning about many things particularly what’s going on in your industry, your community, and elsewhere. Take note that your mentee depends a lot on your knowledge and expertise. Make it a habit to update yourself with the latest trends and topics that may impact your role as a mentor.
Exhibit positive behavior
Mentors are role models. It is hard to teach someone to be this or that when you can’t even be that person you are teaching them to be. You don’t have to be perfect, but you should strive hard to lead by example. That way your mentees will feel more confident working with you and will feel more encouraged to get better.
Give guidance, encouragement, and constructive feedback
Your role as a mentor is to not tell them what to do, rather guide them so they could figure out the best way to overcome obstacles at work. Good mentors are intelligent, generous, and encouraging. They believe that every person has that special talent or strength inside. Your goal is to help them release that hidden talent or strength. You should make your mentee feel empowered at the end of the mentoring session, not helpless or feeling guilty. Furthermore, you should be aware of that person’s emotions and be sensitive to their feelings.
Excellent communication skills – both verbally and non-verbally – are required from a mentor. It is perhaps, the most important quality of a good mentor. It is essential to creating a trusting and strong mentoring relationship. To communicate effectively, listen, pay attention to non-verbal cues, ask questions, and aim to communicate in person rather through email or phone to lessen the chances of miscommunication.
Mentoring is a process. Through mentorship, you are able to provide valuable feedback, insight, and support to another person so they can succeed and thrive in their career. Being a mentor is both fulfilling and challenging and it takes certain qualities to be effective at it. There are probably more attributes of a good mentor apart from those stated here. But these are a great way to start. If you want to become a highly effective mentor, you should strive to develop attributes within you.
Photo: Joshua Ness,Unsplash