Mentoring is all about helping others succeed. As a mentor, you will be transferring your knowledge and skills to another person. You will help them focus on the most important stuff. Guide them to develop the skills that are necessary to succeed. But learning how to be a mentor is not just about others. It can help you improve your own communication, organization, and time management skills.
As you learn how to be a mentor, you’ll want to incorporate the following practices.
1. Establish Expectations and Rules
Nothing can be more frustrating than having unmet expectations especially when it comes to mentoring. Your mentee may unrealistically expect constant attention or very little feedback from you as a mentor. The best thing to do is to let them know what to expect. Give them an idea of how much time they need to set aside for mentoring. Try to meet with them on a consistent schedule, whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly.
You may need to establish some boundaries to let them know when they can contact you for advice and help. If you neglect this step, you could find your protégé gobbling up more time than you anticipated. A mentoring relationship is a commitment, but it shouldn’t take over your life.
2. Assess Needs
Assess the skills and needs of your mentee. Learning how to be a mentor includes discovering what your mentee feels or needs. New employees often have weaknesses that you may not expect. One of the first things that you should do as a mentor is to do an assessment of their skills. And evaluate whether they meet the skills required for the job.
Knowing what they need to work on and what they already know creates an effective mentoring experience. By focusing on their areas of weakness, you will use your time efficiently. Your mentee will see improvement faster. Since you aren’t working on general skills that they have already mastered but are fine-tuning the ones they lack.
Develop an assessment technique for the skillset that is required for the job. This can be an informal survey or observation. As you learn how to be a mentor and get experience with assessment skills, you will find the technique suitable for you.
3. Set Goals Together
Writing down specific goals and committing to them increases the chances of reaching those goals by 1.2 to 1.4 times. Writing down the goals encodes them in your brain and provides a document externally. As you write the goals down, you become more committed to them. This will improve the chances of success for you and your mentee.
Your mentee may have bigger goals and dreams than you ever expected. Set aside a meeting to discuss goals, so you truly have an understanding of what your mentee would like to achieve.
Most mentors focus on professional and career goals. Sometimes career goals can be improved with personal development goals such as organizational goals and time management. You may discover that there are a variety of ways that you can assist them in achieving their goals by combining career goals and personal development.
4. Create a Follow-Up Schedule
Follow up and follow through until the task is completed, the prize won. – Brian Tracy
Following up and following through is the key to success. Those who fail to achieve their goals often simply don’t follow up on their actions. Create a follow-up schedule with your mentee to ensure that progress is being made. This will create a schedule of accountability for your mentee.
If time is an issue, you can follow up with emails and phone calls. It is more important to regularly touch base than it is to meet face to face. Set a follow-up schedule and stick with it even if that means that you have to skype your follow-up.
When you follow up, be prepared. Have a set of questions to ask your mentee. Track their goal progress and ask what they are doing to make progress on their next goal. Let them know if they are on track or if they need to increase their efforts in certain areas.
5. Listen to Concerns, Then Advise
There will always be struggles and successes when you start a new job. As you begin mentoring your mentee, make sure that you are listening to their struggles and concerns. Be careful not to interrupt them and assume that they are making the most common errors. They may have some unique challenges, but most importantly, as they are learning their new skills it is important to be a good listener to them. When the mentee questions norms or rules, don’t ask them to follow blindly – but see if you can discuss it and offer guidance.
After you have heard the concerns and struggles of your mentee, you can advise them on the action to take. They will feel like you are giving them individualized attention rather than generic advice if you listen to them first. This will improve the chances of them taking your mentoring and advice.
6. Encourage them to Make the Decisions
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” – Peter F. Drucker
Learning how to become a mentor includes discovering when to let go and allowing your mentee to make their own decisions. It can be tempting to tell your mentee what you feel is the best course of action. You want them to be making the best decisions based on their own experiences, and you can provide an idea of the best plan of action.
Constantly guiding their decisions can create a dependency. There will be times when you won’t be around to advise your mentee. You want to build their confidence in their decision-making skills. Encourage your mentee to make decisions on their own.
7. Hold Each Other Accountable
“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions. ” – John Di Lemme
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) discovered that accountability increases the chances of success by 65%. The success rate increases to 95% when you have someone that is holding you accountable to that goal.
When you don’t have someone holding you accountable, it is easy to procrastinate and start slacking off. Meeting regularly with your mentee provides a framework for accountability. It allows you to discover whether they have been progressing towards their goals discussed or neglecting to take action.
Your mentee should hold you accountable as well. As a mentor, you are responsible for providing guidance. Your mentee can hold you accountable for following through with mentoring meetings. Accountability is a key skill to master when learning how to be a mentor.
8. Network with Them
“Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.” – Michele Jennae
Networking is vital to career growth. It can help you gain new ideas that will improve your performance in the workplace. Networking allows you to meet and build relationships with those who you can assist.
Building professional relationships with others regularly will provide your mentee with potential job opportunities. Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking. It will also help to identify opportunities and connections that will enhance their job performance.
Some mentees may be new to networking. They may need some guidance in learning how to make connections. Invite your mentee to networking events. Introduce them to people who can help them further their education and career goals.
9. Motivate and Inspire
There are many times in the learning process where the struggle just gets us down. This is common for new employees and people who are learning a new skill set. You don’t want your mentee to get so discouraged by setbacks that they quit. They need to take them in stride and keep making progress towards their goals.
As a mentor, you should provide some motivation and inspiration for your mentee. This can be done by sharing your story with them. Give your mentees a vision to focus on rather than the struggle that they currently have. This can be done by creating a vision board or through stories of other successful people.
Other great ways to inspire your mentee include:
- Challenging them to achieve more
- Be vulnerable and share some of the things you’ve struggled with them
- Show integrity
- Practice what you preach
- Create a strong “why” and focus on the reason they want to achieve their goal
Benefits of Learning How to Be a Mentor
Mentoring is a very rewarding and challenging task to undertake. Learning how to be a mentor is a skill that will help you further your career. As you teach someone else what you know, it solidifies your knowledge. You may find that you’re learning along with your mentee. Mentoring will give you the satisfaction of helping someone else gain success in their career. As a mentor, you will develop your leadership skills, refine the knowledge of the subject yourself, and increase your network and circle of friends. You may notice that your confidence and skills improve as you help your mentee succeed.