Mentoring is two-way relationship, sharing thoughts and ideas – rather than a one-way flow of advice and guidance. As a result, being a mentor should be a positive and rewarding experience.
Here’s how to make the most of it and be a great mentor:
- Listen patiently
Listen and ask appropriate questions to help you get a clear view of your mentee’s goals, aspirations, and needs. What is their story? If it was their 80th birthday party what would they like people to say about them? What are their career aspirations?
- Share your advice and experience
Recommend things your mentee may find useful – this could include tasks, events, books, webinars, journals and podcasts. Even if you’ve never faced the same challenge or problem, an outside perspective can help give your mentee clarity and solve problems. If you don’t have an answer to a specific question, you could tap into your network to educate yourself and pass on the knowledge or connect your mentee with someone who you believe will be able to answer their question.
- Help your mentee set goals
Use the SMART framework to help your mentee set goals that are practical and useful to them.
- Be committed
If you use a separate communication channel for your mentee communications check it on a regular basis and maintain contact with your mentee at least once a month. If you are committed to the mentoring relationship then it fosters commitment in the mentee.
- Encourage independence
You are helping your mentee grow and develop - encourage them to make their own suggestions and take responsibility for their own development. Ask them questions that can help them draw their own conclusions, rather than always giving them the answer.
- Be open-minded
Remember mentoring is a two-way relationship and every mentoring relationship will be different. Keep an open mind and be prepared to think of new approaches or change your advice depending on the type of person your mentee is, want they want to achieve, and what has or hasn’t worked in the past.
- Respect confidentiality
Make sure what happens in mentoring stays in mentoring – unless you both agree otherwise.
Finally, remember to enjoy the experience!
Would you like to share your expertise and experience with current students? Could your insights make an impact and inspire those following in your footsteps?
If you would like to be a mentor, then join Cranfield’s Career mentoring programme which brings together bright, enthusiastic students with successful professionals in a mutually beneficial mentoring partnership.
Find out more on our mentoring web pages.