When you agree to be a mentor, you are offering someone else the benefit of your experience and knowledge gained over the course of your working life. It sounds fairly simple, but mentoring is serious business. Your advice could help shape and change someone’s career path and life, so you must approach it with the right attitude.
Here are some top tips from AlgoMe to help you succeed:
DO leave your ego at the door
A good mentor is humble, and able to put themselves in another’s shoes and take their concerns seriously. You know you don’t have all the answers, but you can help build the mentee’s confidence so that they can come to their own decisions. You are also not afraid of admitting to your own fears and mistakes you may have made or challenges you faced. A mentor admits they are not infallible, and lets their mentee learn from their past mis-steps.
DO learn to listen
Knowing when to talk and when to listen is vital in mentoring. Your mentee should know that your door is open and they can come to you and you’ll be a listening ear. Sometimes your role will simply be as sounding board to help your mentee uncover the answers they already know.
DO draw on your experience
Pat Hermse has spent years in leadership roles in the private banking industry and is acting as a mentor. He says there is no substitute for personal experience when it comes to being an effective mentor. “In mentoring, an element which is very important is experience, you need some “grey hair”. It is difficult to understand something you have never faced yourself,” he says.
DO be realistic
Although you should encourage your mentees as best you can, understanding their limitations is as important as recognising their core strengths. Not everyone will be able to do every job well, but we all have particular aptitudes and skills. A good mentor will recognise and nurture these rather than trying to shoehorn a mentee into a role to which they are not suited.
DO adapt your language
Mentoring is all about communication. This means you may have to tailor your language to make sure you strike the right tone, depending on who you are addressing. Hermse explains: “Suppose you are a CEO of a small private bank, when you deal with a junior employee, your language will be different from when you are dealing with the CFO. The language used should be adapted so the coachee will not feel threatened.”
DON’T patronise your mentee
Nothing will kill a relationship of trust faster than if you come across as condescending. Showing your mentee that you take their problems seriously is important here. If they have a particular fear of something, such as managing a team for the first time, or finding a job again after being made redundant, you should not minimise that fear because it will feel very real to them. If you tell your mentee that their fear is ridiculous, they won’t open up and you won’t get the most out of them. Try to bring respect to all your mentoring relationships.
DON’T expect to be able to mentor everyone
Just as you won’t click with everyone you meet in life, you won’t get along with every potential mentee. Because finding that connection is important to build trust in a mentoring relationship, this means you should accept that you won’t be the right fit to mentor everyone. For example, if you are a generally positive person who always looks for opportunities in situations, you may become frustrated in trying to mentor a ‘glass half empty’ person who always sees the negatives. There is nothing wrong with this, you’re simply not a good match. Focus on the people you do click with and mentor them the best way you can. “You have to accept that with some people it simply doesn’t work, the chemical match is not there,” says Hermse. “You should not have the ability to coach everyone.”
If you have the skills for mentoring, we have people waiting to meet you at AlgoMe.com – register today and start your mentoring journey.