While most people have the ability to be a good mentor, not all people are at a place in their personal or professional lives to participate in a mentoring relationship. And that's OK.
Timing is everything, as the saying goes. And timing (e.g., do I have enough, how often do we need to meet, how will this affect my calendar) is the biggest factor in mentoring relationships (whether informal or formal). Better to be honest with yourself and your prospective mentee and decline the offer to mentor rather than commit now, only to fall down on the job later.
Review the list below and see if these requirements jive with you. If they do, great. Being a mentor might very well be a rewarding experience if/when you have the time to devote to it.
And if these requirements don't resonate with you, that's OK, too.
Being an Effective Mentor: Requirements
- Access: Mentoring cannot take place without contact. As the mentor, you must be available to the menteee. Regular contact for short periods is more desirable than less frequent contact for longer periods.
- Credibility: Being honest about what you know and don't know demonstrates how credible you are. Providing information that is timely and accurate is also an important part of credibility.
- Vulnerability: You must be comfortable sharing your own failures and successes as a way of encouraging the mentee to do the same. You must be willing to listen when a mentee provides feedback that you might not want to hear.
- Independence. Successful mentoring happens when you focus on the mentee's agenda and needs, not your own. Effective mentors have a strong sense of who they are and do not need validation from the menteee.
In addition to having the right requirements, it's also helpful to know what you'll get out of the mentoring relationship as the mentor.
At first blush, it's easy to think the person who benefits the most is the mentee. But mentors benefit just as much.
- Mentoring allows the mentor to give back, which is always good for the spirit
- Mentoring reminds the mentor how to listen actively rather than passively
- Mentoring encourages the mentor to share knowledge, which helps increase the mentor's sense of self-worth
- Mentoring strengthens the mentor's interpersonal relationship skills
- Mentoring helps re-energize the mentor's career
- Mentoring leads to personal satisfaction
Browse our numerous white papers to learn more about what it takes to mentor and be mentored.