As a seasoned professional, you know what it takes to be successful. You’ve worked hard climbing that proverbial career ladder, learning the dos and don’ts in the workplace. As a result, your business acumen is top notch. Your communication skills are excellent. You manage deadlines with aplomb. You take initiative – and your boss couldn’t survive without you. In short, you’re indispensable!
As a role model, it’s time to mentor, pay it forward and share your skills and talents with emerging leaders. If you were fortunate enough to have a mentor in your early career, you know all too well how this support served as a springboard to your success. Mentorship is a critical component of professional growth.
As a mentor, you can play a role in helping a fellow professional advance in their career. You’ll do this by providing advice, professional development and building important networks. By guiding them and sharing your experiences and wisdom, you can facilitate action that has a positive impact on another’s career and life. What an amazing accomplishment to add to your success!
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill
Taking on the role of mentor, requires a commitment from you. Like your other responsibilities, it involves giving it your all, because your mentee is counting on you to deliver the same high-quality results you accomplish in your daily job. Time, planning and a good dose of self-awareness are essentials to a successful mentorship. There is no strict formula for determining the length of mentoring. On average, it should last about a year with formal monthly meetings.
Follow these mentoring tips for your roadmap to success:
Listen More, Talk Less
Get to know your mentee and his/her career aspirations. Listen with an open mind and suspend judgements. Provide insight into your work and career. Let your mentee know you are 100 percent committed to helping him/her succeed.
As a mentor, you can help your mentee establish goals and stay on track. For example, encourage the mentee to create an action plan with “SMART” goals: specific, measurable, achievable and realistic in their current position with clear timeframes.
Schedule a mutually agreed upon time/day to work toward those goals. Your objective is to help him/her get where they want to go. If things appear challenging, have a coaching conversation with them to identify barriers and problem solve so your mentee can keep moving forward. By setting goals, you can also learn more about what they want to do and help them see opportunities for getting there.
Trust is built over time and is extremely important in mentoring. Keep conversations and other communications with your mentee confidential, honor your scheduled meetings and calls, consistently show interest and support and be honest.
Be a Conduit
Find ways to introduce your mentee to other people in the organization. Not only will the mentee get that exposure they might not otherwise receive, you’ll get the opportunity to share that you’re mentoring the individual. When appropriate, arrange for your mentee to sit in on meetings that would offer learning opportunities or be of interest to them.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Identifying areas of improvement is key to successful mentorship. Be sure to communicate in a diplomatic manner as not to offend or lower self-esteem. Helping mentees recognize their own strengths and challenges in a constructive way is what mentoring is all about.
Keep an Open Mind
Sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Understanding the issue from a different perspective, that of the mentee, for example helps deliver better outcomes – plus, it’s a way for you to enhance your communication skills!
It’s All about the Mentee
Mentoring is a decision you’ve made to give back. You’re not doing it to be a hero or to win extra points with your boss. You’ve committed to helping someone succeed, because you see their potential for success. Your goal is to meet - and exceed - his/her expectations.
Support and Encourage
Praising your mentee in front of others, sending a complimentary email, personally telling him/her that you’re impressed with their growth not only works wonders for confidence, it also inspires the mentee to work harder to win your support and encouragement again.
Set an End Date
As the saying goes, “All good things most come to an end.” When planning your mentoring sessions with your mentee, be sure to include the end date. Upon the conclusion of your mentoring, it’s a good practice for you and your mentee to revisit the original goals and objectives and compare them with the outcomes. This allows you both to review the progress made and acknowledge any gaps and areas to improve.
You should also take time to evaluate the mentor/mentee relationship and lessons learned. Ask your mentee for feedback on the mentoring experience and what you can do better to help future mentees. This is also a good time to explore your mentee’s interest in one day mentoring someone.
Congratulate your mentee for making an investment in himself/herself. Schedule a coffee or lunch to celebrate his/her professional development and success. Pat yourself on the back for another job well done and encourage them to pay forward their success by mentoring.
Did You Know…
In Greek mythology, “Mentor” was the trusted advisor to Odysseus. Our use of the term mentor dates to 1699 when French author François Fénelon wrote Les Aventures de Telemaque and the main character in the story is Mentor. This book gave us the modern use of the term mentor: counselor, teacher or trusted friend; one with wisdom and experience to share.
Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs, founder and president of Polished helps professionals strengthen their soft skills to excel in their careers.