How to Be a Mentor

How to Be a Mentor

Would you love to learn how to be a great mentor?

Being a mentor might be a role you take up yourself, owing to your passion for helping people grow in their career paths or individual lives.

Also, sometimes you might work in an organization where you are required to serve as a mentor to other employees.

These employees might be new on the job or not as experienced as you are.

Therefore, your knowledge and expertise would benefit them if you become a mentor to them.

Taking up the role of a mentor for someone is mutually beneficial.

The individual being mentored referred to as the mentee would receive the needed support and guidance he/she needs to succeed in his/her goals and aspirations.

On the other hand, the mentor also can improve his leadership skills and even learn new ones in the process.

And what about the joy and satisfaction that comes from seeing those you mentor do well in their life? Few things compare to this.

This is especially stronger when you mentor young ones and shape them on their career journey.

Seeing how your advice and guidance benefit these and make them into successful adults can be very satisfying.

Sometimes, an individual who respects and trusts you might approach you to become his/her mentor.

At other times, you might take a particular interest in an individual and offer to mentor such one.

Whichever the case, some tips can help you be successful in your role as a mentor whether in the office environment or daily activities.

We will consider these tips as we go further in this article.

Firstly, let us understand who a mentor really is.

How to Be a Mentor – What is a Mentor?

A mentor is a person who provides another person referred to as the mentee with all the tools, resources, information, guidance, and support he/she needs in their career.

This individual is usually a very experienced person who has gone down the path the mentee is about to go and has the expertise and experience to guide him/her along the way.

It is more or less like holding the hands of another person and leading them down a path.

Some people use mentors and role models interchangeably.

While this might be the case sometimes, it is not always right.

You can have a role model that you barely know well or haven’t met before.

You simply love some attributes of the person in question and appreciate them.

But they do not qualify as mentors.

For you to be a mentor, you need to willingly accept to provide the necessary support and guidance for the mentee.

The mentee also needs to have a good relationship with you as the mentor.

And the mentor must play an active consistent role in the life of the mentee either on a short-term basis or long-term.

Your relationship with the person you are providing mentorship for can vary.

This one can be a family member, a friend, a co-worker at work, a colleague in school, or an employee e.t.c.

What really matters is having the experience and willingness to offer support and the mentee is also receptive to the mentorship.

Types of Mentors 

There are different types of mentorship, and you might specialize in one or more of these. Some of the types of mentorship that have been identified are found below.

We have life mentors first.

These mentors are concerned with helping people grow in their personal life.

They usually have a good experience in their life journey, which they can use to support others.

Usually, this is the kind of mentorship that you give to close associates like family members, neighbors, friends, and other acquaintances.

Additionally, some mentors are focused on providing guidance and support for people in their career paths.

These are called career mentors.

If you are a career mentor, you guide your mentee on their career goals either personal ones or organizational goals.

In most cases, this is the kind of mentorship that someone in a higher position in a company gives to a subordinate.

Thirdly, there is peer-to-peer mentorship.

This is mostly practiced in the workplace where new employees are paired with an old staff to learn from that one.

The experience and expertise of the old employee would guide the new ones in learning about the company’s structure, culture, and his or herjob roles.

Benefits You Derive From Being a Mentor

It is easier to talk about the benefits of mentorship to the mentee, as this is the one who is being guided and supported on a path.

Of course, among the many benefits of mentoring to an individual being mentored is career development.

They can learn from the experiences of their mentor, which stands them in good stead to make the best decisions and take the right actions.

Additionally, having a mentor can help the mentee maintain a better focus on set goals and increase the chances for success.

However, the focus of this article is on the mentor.

Hence, are there really any benefits that the mentor also derives? Yes, there are. In fact, a lot of them.

Here are some of the benefits you get from being a mentor:

Rewarding Feeling That Comes from Helping Someone 

The feeling is wonderful, having the opportunity to help people make progress either in their personal life or career path.

When you mentor someone and can experience firsthand how your guidance and support set them up for success, it gives a very rewarding feeling.

How about the moments when that individual points to you and proudly say: “Here is my mentor”?. The feeling of excitement and pride that follows knows no bounds.

It Helps You Develop Great Communication Skills 

For you to be an effective mentor, you must connect with your mentee and share practical advice and direction.

It would be difficult to do this without having good communication skills.

And having good communication skills goes beyond being fluent, it also involves conveying your ideas clearly and understandably.

One beautiful thing about communication skills as with all other skills is that they can get better with practice.

As such, taking up mentorship roles can help you develop this skill that you need in every facet of life.

It Helps You Become a Better Leader 

Being a mentor to someone or a group of persons is more or less the same as taking up a leadership role.

Because of course a leader is tasked with the responsibility of providing support, direction, and guidance.

And that is the same thing that a mentor does.

Hence, being active in your role of mentorship can help you develop great leadership skills, which would benefit you in the long run.

It Increases Self Confidence 

If you are a mentor or someone sees you as one, there is no room for cowering.

In fact, you need to develop the courage to lead and offer opinions and advice, even the unpopular ones.

Seeing how this pans out and the positive results you can get from this would increase your self-confidence.

And this increased self-confidence would be definitely beneficial to you in not just this role but many other areas of life.

It is a Way to Grow your Network 

Networking has been touted as one of the essential factors that help in human personal growth and development.

A lot of people would admit that their personal network has paid a key role in their career development over the years.

And it can as well do the same for you.

There have been cases of people being mentored turning out to be of help and great impact to their mentors either in the same industry or another field in the future.

Improving your Skills and Learning New Ones 

It has often been said that no one person is an island of knowledge.

And also, when you teach others, you get better at what it is you teach.

So when you mentor people, you are also indirectly improving your own personal skills.

Additionally, you might also have one or two new things to learn either from the mentorship process or from your mentee.

The Most Important Qualities of a Mentor

It is very easy to accept the role of a mentor or see oneself as a mentor.

However, this role comes with a lot of responsibilities.

Also, it is a role that requires expertise from the individual who is filling it.

Hence, there are some very important qualities that the best mentors have, which you should cultivate if you want to go down this path.

As we consider these qualities one at a time, note which ones you feel you have and which ones you might need to build.

Here are a few of the most important ones:

Have Relevant Experience

This can be regarded as the most important quality of a good mentor, and rightly so.

This is because you cannot just decide to start mentoring simply because someone asks you to or you want to.

You must have very good knowledge and experience in the industry where your mentee is.

It applies when guiding someone down a career path, as well as mentoring an employee in the place of work.

Therefore, before you decide to pick up the mentorship role for someone, ensure that it is an area where you have relevant experience.

In fact, you can be sure that the person seeking mentorship would consider this as well before asking you to be his/her mentor.

Have Enthusiasm 

The main goal of being a mentor is to impact the person or people you are mentoring.

And this impact might be in knowledge or career growth.

Both of these areas require enthusiasm to achieve.

The best mentors have the abiding goal and interest of seeing those they mentor make progress in life and be successful.

Hence, it is not difficult to see the sincerity of purpose and passion for this role in a mentor.

If you are going to mentor someone and be great at it, you would need to exude enthusiasm for this role.

A Good Listener 

You can only truly help others when you listen attentively to them.

While you are the mentor, it is important that you still allow your mentee to talk and listen attentively.

You would need to ask for clarifications on areas you are not clear and ensuring you are not distracted when communicating with a mentee.

That way, you show you respect them and it also makes you better placed to guide and counsel.

Respect 

Another quality of good mentors that you need to develop is respect.

Especially is this very important when you are providing mentorship in the workplace.

The respect they say is reciprocal, and as such if you demand or expect respect from your mentee(s), you will also need to give this.

That means as a mentor, you would do well to be very tactful in your communication with others, and treat everyone with the utmost respect.

You will not want to talk down on people you mentor or others.

When you cultivate this fine quality, it shows professionalism and makes you stand out as a great mentor.

Self-Sacrifice

A life of mentorship is a life of giving yourself for the benefit of someone else.

Many times, you would have to go through certain inconveniences just to provide support for your mentee.

Without a spirit of self-sacrifice, it would be difficult to achieve this.

For you to be a mentor, therefore, it is essential that you unselfishly put the other person’s interest before yours.

Eager Learner 

A good mentor is modest enough to admit that the world changes, and so does technology, systems, and structures.

Hence, you need to be a willing and eager learner to succeed as a mentor.

You would have to keep yourself updated with current trends in your industry, as well as changing circumstances and situations.

When you do this, you would be able to guide your mentee accordingly in the right way.

How to Be a Mentor – Tips to Help You Get Started and Succeed in This Role 

If someone has approached you to become his mentor, it is something to take pride in.

That is evidence that the individual sees something valuable in you, respects your level of experience and knowledge, and capabilities.

You might welcome such an opportunity.

However, how do you make sure you are successful in this role of mentorship?

Whether you were approached to take up a mentorship position, or you’ve decided to take up this journey personally, it is not an easy one.

However, some tips can help you to get started on this role and also make a success of it.

Here are some of them:

1Decide What Area of Mentorship You Are Suited For 

Earlier, we considered the different types of mentors that we have.

We have those who are life mentors, career mentors, and peer mentors.

While you might not be the one deciding on a mentor at times as clearly noted above, sometimes it is your sole decision.

If this is the case, you need to do a proper self-examination to know which area you are best suited to.

Choosing the area to mentor in depends largely on your abilities, capabilities, knowledge, and of course experience.

Only when you make your decision with these factors in mind can you set up yourself for success as a mentor.

2Be a Good Listener 

You are the mentor, but this relationship should not be a one-sided one if it’s going to be healthy.

Note that your mentee is still primarily responsible for the career path they want to follow and how to get there.

Your own role is to provide guidance, information, or support, whichever one they need.

It is only by listening attentively when you meet with them can you understand how best to help and assist.

Therefore, avoid the temptation of assuming you know everything about how your mentee wants you to contribute.

Also, do not enforce your opinions or advice.

Show respect for the mentee by allowing them to express themselves freely, and the relationship would be a healthy one.

3Ask a Lot of Questions 

Still boding on the point of not assuming you have all the information or know all the answers, it is important to ask your mentee questions; a lot of them.

When a person approaches as his mentor to express himself, it is not enough to simply nod or stay silent.

It is also not enough to offer advice based on superficial information.

You must dig deeper by asking them many questions to reveal the details and also help you have a better understanding.

When you use questions to reach the heart of your mentee, you can be in a better position to offer advice that would have long-term benefits, not just short.

4Clearly Set Expectations Together with the Mentee

You should do this at the beginning of the relationship.

You do not want to quickly assume what the expectations of the mentee are without having this discussion.

It could be that you are thinking that they want a certain thing from you as a mentor and what they really wanted is a different thing.

Therefore, before you start the journey of mentorship, have this open conversation with your mentee to reach an understanding.

Doing this would ensure you both work together with clear expectations in mind, leading to no disappointments.

5Provide More Resources Than You do Instructions 

As a mentor, the temptation might be there to want to always give out instructions and directives to those you provide mentorship.

Well, having the experience and the expertise in the area of mentorship comes with the urge to give advice and even make rules at times.

However, it is more effective to provide your mentee(s) with the resources they can work with than just dishing out instructions.

It might also help to tell them stories of either success or failure, whether personal or documented, instead of just giving head knowledge of what you feel would work.

6Be Honest in Admitting Your Mistakes 

A mentor is who you are not a perfect person.

Hence, do not try too hard to show that you’ve always had it figured out or have made the best decisions at all times.

Let your mentee see that you’ve been vulnerable and have made mistakes in the past.

Telling them this would help build trust, and they would be more willing to also share theirs and know that mistakes are normal.

7Set a Good Example Being a Role Model

You should not be a mentor of “do what I say not what I do”.

A person approached you and asked you to mentor them because they believe you are capable and you need to show this by your actions and decisions you make.

You cannot ask your mentees to do one thing while you do another, especially if you are in the same industry.

While they cannot always be used interchangeably, a mentor is often seen as a role model as well.

Your mentee will be watching you, keeping tabs on all your actions and how you behave.

Ensure you are setting a fine example for them.

8Introduce Your Mentee to Your Network If Necessary

There are areas where those in your network, whether businesses or individuals would offer more benefit to your mentee than yourself.

In fact, sometimes the people you mentor might ask for access to your network or connection.

You would need to decide whether or not this is something you want to give to them.

If anything, once you see that they can benefit from such networks and those involved are also fine with it, you should be open to making the introductions

9Offer Constructive Criticism When Needed 

One key part of mentorship is providing feedback, and such feedback might sometimes be by way of criticism.

You do not want to hold back from telling your mentee what they are doing wrong simply because you do not want to hurt them.

Of course, this is not saying that you be overly judgemental or unnecessarily offend your mentee.

On the contrary, make efforts in letting them know what exactly they are doing wrong and how it might affect them by making the criticism constructive.

By offering constructive criticism, you would be able to guide your mentee effectively, helping them avoid pitfalls and mistakes you might have made in the past.

Hence, your experience would be proving very beneficial in this area.

10Celebrate Their Achievements and Milestone 

It is worthy of note that mentorship is a long-term project.

As such, you should be open to seeing how your mentee makes steady progress towards actualizing their long-term goals.

Help them to set milestones along the way as they work towards their goal.

And as they reach these milestones, be there to acknowledge them and celebrate their achievements.

Note that it might be hard for a mentee to see the progress he or she is making.

This is because they might be looking at your present position as the mentor and judge their achievements using you as a reference point.

You have the responsibility of changing this view and letting them see the progress they are making, however steady.

How to Be a Mentor – Final Thoughts

Being a mentor to someone is one of the most satisfying human endeavors.

Imagine the joy and satisfaction that comes from helping someone grow and develop in life, making great strides, and being successful.

Few things compare to such joy.

Whether someone asks you to be their mentor, you decide to take up this responsibility yourself, or your employer asks you to mentor someone in your line of work, be confident that you have what it takes to do this successfully.

There would be challenges along the way as with all human endeavors, but with the right strategies and methods like the ones discussed so far, you can be a mentor, a good one at that.

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