Updated: Sep 28, 2020
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg
The role of an effective mentor means realizing that their mentee is the one in the driving seat of the mentorship process. People put their hands up for mentoring because they want to add value to someone’s life and find it fulfilling. How do we ensure it is effective?
Research your mentee to pre-determine how you can mentor them effectively. A LinkedIn profile gives you a lot of information. This person can add value to your life by sharing experience, strategies, current market conditions and much more.
Take a sincere, genuine interest in them as a person. Sometimes, going beyond a person’s professional persona is important to understand how you can help them better. Taking time to understand their personality, motivations and thought process will help you be an effective mentor to them.
Be a good listener. You may possess all kinds of accumulated wisdom but it is important to first understand your mentee and their point of view. Hear what the mentee has to say before giving your opinion. Query them on their point of view. They bring insights and perspectives which you may gain from. Lastly, depending on what they have already told you, offer them advice. Listen, ask then advise.
Offer tangible value. While the mentoring call could be a discussion and advice on a particular topic, the session becomes far more effective when there is something tangible for mentees to take away, like introductions, names of networks you recommend this person to join, tools and templates, list of books/blogs to read.
Be forthcoming about your own mistakes. Being open to sharing your own mistakes and failures is one of the best gifts a mentor can give. Not only is it helpful information for problem-solving purposes, but it also helps build trust, gives them permission to share their own mistakes, and strengthens the relationship overall.
Set a follow up schedule. It is important for both parties to decide on next steps and how they want to take it forward. It could be just a one-off call and no follow-up but maybe a check-in after a couple of months down the line is always a good morale booster. Alternately you may decide to mentor this person on a monthly basis but set clear next steps and expectations.
Motivate and inspire the mentee. Celebrate their achievements and encourage them to look at a broader perspective.
“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.” — Maya Angelou
Being a mentor can be an incredibly fulfilling experience when done right. It enables you to give back to the professional community and at the same time, stay in touch with all the changes taking place in the industry. I hope this helps you on your journey of mentorship!
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