Most people start their professional careers at the foot of a ladder before working their way to the top. This is a step by step process which often requires a transition period to adapt and be successful in that new role. But change is not always easy to deal with. And if you were able to become successful in your career it was probably because you could rely on a mentor for advice. Now it is your turn to share your experience and help others through this difficult transition period. But you might be wondering, “What does being a good mentor look like?”
Qualities of a good mentor
- Relevant expertise, and the ability and willingness to communicate
Being a good mentor means you can share your experience with your mentee, but that can’t be done if you don’t have relevant background in that field. The more experience and knowledge you have gathered in a specific field, the more equipped you will be to share that with your mentee.
However, it is one thing to have information and another to have the willingness and ability to effectively communicate that information. Your desire to share your experience in a way that will make sense will make the difference.
- Ability to know your mentee as a person
Being an expert in a certain field is great. But what works for one person might not work for another person. Therefore, it is important to know your mentee as a person in order to be able to share your experience in a more inefficient and efficient manner.
Knowing your mentee personally will help you understand who they are as a person, know what motivates them, their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, etc. Being a good listener will help you accomplish this.
- Knowing when to give advice and allowing your mentee to make decisions
The fact that you have relevant expertise might tempt you to always take the wheel while your mentee takes the back seat. However, it is worth noting that a good mentor-mentee relationship involves you helping your mentee learn and acquire experience in their new role, not doing it for them.
This requires knowing when to give advice and when to allow your mentee to make decisions on their own. A good way to do that would be to act like a driving instructor who takes the passenger’s seat and provides insight when necessary allowing the mentee to be in control of the wheel. You still have access to the emergency brakes if your mentee goes completely off-track.
Just in case you are wondering, “Why even bother being someone’s mentor?”, “Is there anything I can gain from this?” Yes!
Benefits of Being a Mentor
1. Enjoy personal satisfaction knowing that you are making a huge difference in someone’s life by contributing to the person’s success.
“She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. Mentors are important, and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship.” This was Oprah Winfrey talking about Maya Angelou.
2. Teaching a mentee helps you to be better at your work.
3. Sharing your experience with another person helps enhance your leadership skills.
4. It sharpens your listening skills which will come in handy in all your social relationships.
5. You increase your self-worth and self-confidence when you share your experience with your mentee.
6. It is also an opportunity for you to learn something new from your mentee.
7. It expands your professional network.
It is worth noting that mentorship is a process, so continually improving your skills will continually improve your capabilities. Actively working to expand your mentoring competencies will help you provide valuable feedback and share your experience in a way that will help your mentee thrive in their career and their life.