Becoming a mentor is a highly rewarding privilege… But the difference between a good and a bad mentor can be life changing, so we’re here to help you get it right.
At its core, being a mentor is being a trusted advisor. It involves making yourself available to support and advise someone when they need it, delivering that support in a way that makes sense to them, and always keeping their best interests in mind.
Traits of a Good Mentor
3 phases of mentoring
Establishing the Basis
Get to know each other and set expectations & goals.
Give feedback, advise, challenge and discuss new ideas.
Conclude and Analyse
Reflect on progress and measure success against initial goals.
Top 5 tips for Mentors
1. Set mutual expectations and goals
This is crucial to establish early on in your mentoring relationship. To avoid any miscommunication, outline together:
- What your mentee wants to get out of the relationship
- What you are prepared (and not prepared) to do
- What you expect of each other
- How often you will have mentoring sessions
At this point it’s also important to stress confidentiality. You can then work with your mentee to define their goals, ensuring that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
2. Study your mentee
Don’t fall into the trap of talking about yourself all the time in your mentoring sessions! Good mentors take the time to get to know their mentees on a personal level, ask thought-provoking questions, listen carefully, and only then advise.
Gain as much information and clarity about your mentee’s current situation, aspirations and challenges as you can before relating your personal experiences. This way you can ensure your advice is relevant, and you avoid trying to make a ‘mini me’ out of your mentee.
3. Ask the right questions
Good mentors can help their mentees realise their own mistakes or areas of improvement with insightful questions, rather than simply telling them what to do. This is known as the ‘Socratic method’ – you can try it by asking questions such as:
- “What went right?
- “What could have gone better?”
- “What could you do differently?”
- “What’s a different way of thinking about this?”
Mastering this art of questioning can help your mentee come to the right conclusion on their own, which is far more powerful.
4. Let them do the driving
Think of yourself as a driving instructor in the passenger’s seat: You can encourage them to tackle more challenging routes and give advice on technique, but ultimately, your mentee is in control of the vehicle. Remember, you’re a guide – not a manager or a parent figure.
Point them in the right direction but let them figure out the way. You should also have high expectations of your mentee. This will mean you naturally challenge them and push them out of their comfort zone, which is when some of the best growth happens.
5. Take action and open doors
Mentors who follow through with actions are the ones who have the most impact.
Any effort you can go to beyond your sessions reflects a high level of dedication and care for your mentee’s success.
Take note of the areas in which your mentee wants to grow, and always look for opportunities to point them in the right direction.
Go the extra mile by:
- Recommending relevant books, events, podcasts, blogs or courses
- Seeking out (or creating) projects related to skills your mentee wants to develop
- Introducing them to appropriate people in your network
- Enabling quick wins by establishing short-term goals and measuring their success
- Demonstrating their progress by recapping and celebrating their accomplishments together
A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. – Bob Proctor