Anyone who succeeds in life obtains guidance and direction at one point or another. Naturally, mentors in life had mentors of their own. Becoming a mentor is not difficult but it does require conscious thought and application, and with enough practice and repetition, you can be on your way to becoming an effective mentor yourself. In doing so, you could potentially create future mentors and you will have the satisfaction of being making a positive impact on someone else’s life. If you are interested in learning what you can do, here are a few ways that you can become a great mentor.
Arguably the most significant thing that any mentor can do is be able to relate to the person that is under their guidance. Empathy is fundamentally understanding the experiences your mentee goes through. This step is essential to mentorship because it establishes a framework of perspective. If you fail to understand what someone is going through, you cannot assist or guide them through their situation. Instead of giving them a good solution for their problem, you’ll fall short and provide them with misinformation that could end up worsening their circumstances. Of course, this is easier said than done. In every step of the process, adapt as you go and discover what your pupil really needs.
Demonstrate a Positive Attitude
Another important aspect of being a great mentor is always staying positive. Who you will mentor will be looking up to you as an example of leadership, and your behaviors will rub off on them. Once they see that you maintain a positive attitude, there is a good chance that they will keep the same state of positivity. Do not take this responsibility lightly, as this can shape the entire attitude of your pupil. If you are cynical and pessimistic, you’ll drain your mentee’s energy, and they’ll burn out faster.
Also known as constructive criticism, being honest with your mentee is crucial. The worst thing you can do is be unrealistic and not straightforward. This can create a false sense of security and have the mentee work towards a goal that they are not yet ready to achieve. Respectfully, you must remind your mentees of where they fall short, where they can improve and what they do well. This will instill in them a desire to be better and work where they fall short. Ensure that you give feedback immediately as well. Don’t let the learning opportunity pass for your mentee or stew on feedback for months at a time.
Recognise Mentoring is a Two-Way Experience
Many of your mentees will come from different backgrounds and different spheres of practice and you can learn from them as much as they learn from you through the mentoring journey. Be open during the experience, to using it to draw learning from them, and feedback to them when they have taught you something as it is a positive reinforcement and important to say thank you.
One of the things I learnt early on when I started mentoring is set boundaries during the initial period of engagement. Set out clearly what you can offer in terms of time and be clear what you can’t. People approach mentoring with different expectations, for some it is to overcome a very specific period or issue, for others it is more of an on-going but light touch interaction. Having that initial conversation at the start to set boundaries and be clear about expectations is essential to it being a positive experience for both of you.
These are a few tips to help you become an effective mentor. Follow these guidelines, and you will be well on your way to becoming a great mentor yourself.