When starting a career, people have a transition period to learn how to be the best at their jobs. To make that transition easier, many employers take advantage of a workplace mentoring program. In this process, a new hiree (as mentee) is paired with an experienced employee (as a mentor) from within the organization. The mentor guides the mentee through ups and downs and helps them develop in their career.
Becoming a mentor is a great opportunity for experienced professionals. Not only would you be able to pass on tips you’ve learned, but also it is a great experience to put on your resume.
What is a mentor?
“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself” - Galileo Galilei
A mentor is a seasoned professional who takes interest in helping others develop as a successful professional. A mentor’s role is to formally or informally guide their mentees while maintaining a friendly relationship. They usually take time to get to know you and your challenges and use their personal experience to help you.
Skills you need to be a mentor
A mentor is a sounding board to a mentee throughout their career. They provide guidance on career development, career management, and an insider’s perspective on the business.
Also read: Top Mistakes of the New Professional Mentor
If you want to become a mentor, there are specific skills you need to stand out from the crowd:
Demonstrates positive attitude
Positive attitude is the key to success. A mentor with good mentoring skills is always optimistic and enthusiastic about guiding others. If your mentee sees you stressed, it will leave them confused and nervous. On the other hand, a calm and confident leader can encourage mentees to put their best foot forward. A skillful mentor is able to see the bright side of every situation and imparts the same attitude in their mentees.
There are multiple ways to develop a positive attitude that can help you be an effective mentor:
- Start your day right
- Listen to good music
- Be nice to yourself
- Be aware of negativity
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Help others
- Make time to be alone
- Take time to do things you enjoy
- Practice gratitude
Communication is crucial for a successful mentoring relationship. And to be a good communicator, you need to be an effective listener. But unfortunately, most of the time we are so distracted by the outside and inside noise, that we do not listen. The common mistakes we make while listening to others are:
- Get distracted by the sound of phone buzzing, door opening, or a car driving
- Thinking of what to say next
- Judging what the other person is saying
- Jumping in with advice
Listening is much more than receiving or hearing. It is an active process where you make a conscious decision to listen with intention. You are mentally present for the mentoring session and observe non-verbal cues such as eye contact, body language, facial expression, etc.
To be an effective mentor, you need to be a mindful listener.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes; the awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. The elements of empathy are emotional intelligence, attention, listening, and demonstration of interest through body language.
Empathy is a critical skill for a mentor. It enables you to understand your mentee’s difficulties and concerns. Besides, it makes you a good communicator because you can sense what your mentee needs to hear.
Though empathy is intuitive, it is a skill that can be developed. How?
- Talk to other people
- Make listening a priority
- Notice body language
- Make yourself vulnerable
- Take action and help others
Also read: 5 Useful Tips for a First Time Mentor
Ability to give honest feedback
It is a critical skill for mentors. If they shy away from giving constructive feedback, the mentee will never grow. That’s why mentors must feel comfortable with giving honest feedback. A skilled mentor knows how to give negative feedback with a positive twist so that the mentee walks away with positivity and uses the feedback to improve themselves.
The key is to balance both positive and negative elements while providing feedback. And of course, as a mentor, you must be cognizant of your tone and word choice.
The best practices for giving feedback are:
- First, establish an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect
- While mentioning weaknesses, it is also important to acknowledge strengths and achievements
- Describe the specific elements that concern you
- Keep it small and simple
- Be gentle with your mentee
- Maintain an eye contact
Mentors are respected leaders. So if you feel that you have the capability to become an effective mentor, don’t hesitate even if you don’t have all the skills. They can be developed with time and practice. A huge part of being a mentor being dedicated to the process. So invest some time to work on improving your mentoring skills and you are on your way to becoming a successful mentor.