A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor who provides wisdom, insight and support. Even renowned management consultant Peter Drucker praised two of his bosses as ideal mentors, “They were willing to listen to me. They were sparing with praise, but always willing to encourage.”
In conventional mentorship programs, a manager or executive counsels an up-and-coming employee who is interested in advancing their career. Although this model remains common, there are other types of mentorship too. For example, an established worker may help a new hire to acclimate and learn the ropes. And, in today’s rapidly changing world, mentors are no longer are required to be wiser and older. In many organizations, millennials may advise veteran employees in technology and upcoming trends.
So, how can you support your coworkers? Here are five tips to becoming a better mentor.
1. Customize the Experience
First and foremost, get to know the person. Mentorships should not be cookie-cutter. Find out about your mentee’s personality, background, interests, learning style and aspirations. Provide support in a way that makes sense and create a relevant experience. Also keep in mind that time frames vary. Set goals early in the process and make changes as necessary.
2. Be an Active Listener
Sometimes listening, really listening is easier said than done. Make a commitment to stay invested in conversations. Focus on the person, rather than what you will say next or what you will have for dinner tonight. Mentorship moments are not always regularly scheduled, so be there when your mentee is ready to talk.
3. Provide Thoughtful Advice
Throughout the process, ask your mentee to reflect upon what they are learning. Be prepared to identify their strengths and their weaknesses and to give constructive criticism as well as praise. Remember that not all feedback is useful. Many times, it is better to think something over and offer long-term vision rather than off-the-cuff advice.
4. Create Opportunities
Help your mentee to grow by opening doors and making opportunities available. Suggest classes, reading materials and connections. Advocate for them, mention their name for appropriate projects and look out for their overall wellbeing. Steer them away from no-win assignments and adversarial coworkers.
5. Lead by Example
Finally, it is vitally important for you to be a good role model. Display high standards, a positive attitude and patience. Share your career stories (both good and bad), so your mentee can benefit from your knowledge and experience.
If you have never considered mentoring, now may be a good time to start. Mentorships are a great way not only to have a positive impact on another person but also to discover more about yourself. Recent research shows “individuals who served as mentors within their workplace reported greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.” (The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring, 2015)
Are you looking for more ways to improve your job performance and work relationships? United Talent Staffing Services publishes weekly articles on topics ranging from Making a Career Move to Effective Management Techniques. Visit our blog for more tips and advice.