Mentoring can occur at any stage of a person’s career, and most people can readily identify a few people that have mentored them along the way. Very few people get to positions of success without a mentor or two.
Mentoring plays a vital role in many lives as it is a learning relationship and usually focuses on career development. Its purpose is to cultivate personal growth, build skills, knowledge, and understanding. But mentoring is so much more. It often includes opening doors, making connections, and sharing experiences.
What Is the Key to A Great Mentor?
The essential characteristics of the ideal mentor include listening, patience, the ability to provide honest feedback, supportiveness, and the desire to help you achieve career success. In addition, the most successful mentors consider what’s going on, evaluate the direction of the mentee, and help identify a path to follow.
If you’re a mentor or aspire to be a great mentor, here are a few methods to use as you mentor others to succeed.
One of the primary actions that a mentor does is ask the mentee questions. Questions are asked to seek clarity, look for meaning, and help the mentee identify patterns and guide them along the path to self-discovery.
The question process helps the mentee to think deeper about themselves, their circumstances, and the decisions that must be made. Helping them develop and use reflection will provide them will skills for self-sufficiency and productivity.
Mentees seek you out because they appreciate your opinions. While you should not take over the conversation or tell the mentor how they ought to or should not do, you can offer some suggestions regarding the circumstance they’re facing.
As a mentor, you are often the sounding board for many of the mentee’s future actions. Often when options are provided, it helps the mentee understand that other alternatives may be available.
Telling stories is an excellent communication method. Stories allow you to get in touch with your mentee and demonstrate to them that you understand the struggles they face. In addition, through stories, mentees learn that they are not the only ones that have faced a situation. Building relationships through stories also include the mentor showing their vulnerability and sharing their failure, struggle, or how they overcame.
Mentees are not fortune-tellers! They do not always have to provide an answer. While mentors offer guidance, share advice, and give direction to grow the mentee, they should not always provide a ready solution. A big part of career and personal growth is decision-making. Helping your mentee consider options and allowing them to identify actions to take will do much more to facilitate development than always providing an answer.
Listen with Compassion
One of the most successful forms of communication is through listening. Before providing any guidance, mentors should listen with compassion. Ensuring that you heard all that the mentee has said before offering any comments can often be the best gift to your mentee. Listening with no judgment provides the mentee with a safe environment to share and receive guidance.