On the path of professional development, mentors are an important resource. To a young professional seeking to enter the workforce, or even a seasoned professional attempting to enter a new industry, mentors can offer a wealth of knowledge and insight that can only be gained from experience. Knowing that, it’s no wonder people are eager to develop mentor-mentee relationships and why many professionals are generally willing and excited to step into the role of mentor. Enthusiasm is a place for mentors to start, but what else can mentors do to be a great mentor?
- Be Committed and Invested
Mentorship is a relationship, and like other relationships, it requires commitment and investment. In mentor-mentee relationships, the mentee is typically eager and invested, and being in the position of the mentee can leave them feeling vulnerable—as if they are the ones with the most to lose and gain. By showing that they are just as invested in the relationship, mentors can help mentees become comfortable enough to actually gain from the relationship. In fact, when they can really commit to the mentor-mentee relationship, mentors stand to gain a lot as well. However, commitment doesn’t mean that a mentor needs to drop everything to help their mentee. Instead, mentors should be honest about how much time they can dedicate to the relationship, and then make themselves available.
- Guide and Facilitate, Rather Than Dictate
Mentors tend to be professionals with considerable years of experience compared to their mentees. In some situations, especially with years of hindsight, it can be tempting to simply tell a mentee what they need to do in order to be successful. However, this behavior can actually be more damaging than helpful. The role of a mentor is to provide guidance and advice to help the mentee reach success. An effective mentor instead asks questions so that mentees can properly explore their situation on their own terms and make the appropriate decision. Rather than telling their mentee what steps to take, an effective mentor encourages their mentee to think about their goals and objectives and helps them create the right career development plan.
- Recognize That Mentorship is a Two-Way Street
A good leader is one who is always looking to grow and improve, but this also applies to good mentors. In the past few years, industries have changed rapidly with new technologies becoming commonplace. In this changing professional environment, it is very easy for the mentee to become the mentor. A good mentor not only imparts their wisdom and knowledge but can also recognize that the experiences and skills of their mentees are just as valuable. Nowadays, mentees may be recent graduates entering the workforce, but they also might be a colleague from a different department. This approach to mentorship can be a valuable learning experience for mentees, but can also benefit mentors as well, as it results in exposure to new ideas and knowledge. Mentorship is a time-consuming task, and mentors should get as much out of the experience as they give.
These are just a few tips on how to be a better mentor. By keeping these tips in mind, mentors can help ensure that both they and their mentees receive the most from the relationship. Here at naisA Global, we’re committed to developing young leaders of the future, and one way we do that is by connecting young professionals with industry leaders. Our naisA Flash Advice program allows members to conduct short sessions with industry leaders who are eager to connect with and develop young minds. It can be daunting to start a new career, but having access to a mentor can help accelerate the road to success.