Since humans have been able to learn, mentorships have played an enormous role in society.
But mentorship is about more than just education – it allows people to grow professionally and personally.
Youth who participate in mentorships see incredible benefits; higher graduation rates, better self-esteem, and stronger interpersonal skills, to name a few. But mentorship doesn’t have to take place between a student and a professional – it doesn’t even have to include an authority figure (though many are). Mentors can be close friends, coworkers, family members – anyone who you trust.
If you’re considering introducing mentorships in your office – or entering one outside of work – here’s a few tips to make sure it all goes smoothly.
- Remember: It’s a Relationship
When you become a mentor, don’t forget that it’s about more than teaching someone. Like relationships, a good mentorships is all about trust. Make sure your mentee feels comfortable sharing things with you. In return, don’t hide from them. Be open, honest, and let them know that you’re on their side.
- Listen Before You Speak
As a mentor, you won’t always have the right answer. That’s okay. First, listen to your mentee’s story. If they’re asking for advice, think about whether you’re the right person to answer. If not, simply let them know that you understand where they are coming from, then point them to a resource that will answer their questions.
- Be Engaged
Involvement in a conversation is about more than nodding your head and saying, “Yes, I understand.” Take interest in your mentee – who they are, what they enjoy, where they want to be in life (and where they currently are). Build a connection. Many mentorships turn into lifelong friendships.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions
“How are things going?”
It’s a broad, but solid way to open the door for deeper conversation.
Then get specific – ask questions about projects, goals, life. Anything and everything that will help your mentee grow. If you’ve put in the time to create a relationship built on trust, your conversations will be more meaningful and effective.
- Be a Coach, Not a Judge
There’s power in failure. Don’t try to overprotect your mentee from messing up.
When your mentee makes a mistake, work with them to understand why it happened and what they can learn from the experience. Don’t judge – lead.
On the flip side, if they’ve successfully completed a project or accomplished something important, celebrate them! Use this as an opportunity to ask them what worked, what didn’t, and what (if anything) they would have changed.
Share Your Story, Become a Mentor
Do you use mentorships in your office? Was a mentor responsible for your career? Share your story in our LinkedIn group. Interested in becoming a mentor? Visit Mentoring.org to find opportunities in your community.