A mentor is a trusted and experienced advisor, someone who provides advice, guidance, and feedback to help their mentees grow professionally and personally.
Everyone knows having a mentor can make a significant difference in a career, but being one is also an incredibly valuable experience and can be as rewarding for you as it is beneficial for the mentee.
Mentoring relationships can last for years - in fact, that's how people traditionally think of mentorships. But modern mentorships can also last as long as a single video call. In today's world, it's all about flexibility. Mentorships can be long-term, short-term, on-demand or even one-off. That's helpful for mentees who may need help with a specific challenge and for mentors who may want to give back but don't have a lot of free time to do it in.
No matter what your specific mentor relationship looks like, whether you've mentored a hundred times or never before, here are some quick tips on how to be a GREAT one.
1. Set goals
To be a good mentor you need to have a plan based on what the mentee wants to learn - what they want to accomplish. Ask them about their aspirations and expectations and then define what they want to get out of a mentoring relationship.
2. Normalize failure
Share your stories of failure! It will make them feel more comfortable to know that even you made mistakes along the way. Tell them personal stories to show that failures will occur along the road to success. Every successful professional has experienced challenges, mistakes and failures; it’s important to acknowledge that setbacks are part of the journey toward success.
3. Motivate and Inspire
Encourage your mentee as much as you can. Compliment them with kind words, praise or gratitude. It will motivate them and push them to do better and try harder. Being asked to be a mentor is a privilege. It means somebody sees you as inspirational and wants your guidance. But remember, you are there to help the mentee figure out the solution - not to solve it for them.
4. Correct and Instruct
While it’s wonderful to get support, it’s also important to hear things that other people are not willing to say. Always give your mentee constructive criticism and honest feedback.
A good mentor has the audacity to say, “The way you’re doing it is wrong, that's not what you should be doing.” Be kind and respectful of course, but be clear. Or say, “Your way is good but there’s a better way.” Good is the enemy of great. People tend to settle for good when they could be great. Help your mentee be the best version of themselves.
5. Be Open-Minded
Remember that mentors have just as much to learn as mentees. If your mentee has ideas that are different to your own, examine their thoughts objectively before sharing your thoughts. You might just come up with something neither of you expected.
It's also beneficial for you! Use your conversations with mentees an opportunity to learn from someone who has a different perspective and background.
If you want to be a great mentor you need to be willing to commit some of your time. There's no right schedule or frequency, but whatever the cadence of your meetings, be committed. Come with a plan, a willingness to share, be ready to motivate and have an open mind,
If you do, you will make a tremendous impact in your mentees’ lives and help them reach their full potential.