So, You Want to Be a Mentor? Here Are 5 Tips to Get You Started

By Robert Half on January 17, 2023 at 8:30am

If you’ve thought about becoming a mentor but felt intimidated by the idea, you’re not alone. Many people shy away from the experience because they don’t feel they have the knowledge or skills to mentor another person.

The good news is you can learn to be a great mentor! Here are 5 tips to get you started.

1. Master your mindset

It’s crucial to have the right mindset when entering a mentoring relationship if you are to build trust and credibility with your mentee.

Rather than going into problem-solving mode assuming there’s someone you need to “fix,” strive to be:

  • Curious: Seek to understand your mentee.
     
  • Present: Remove all distractions when you are engaging with your mentee.
     
  • Patient: Create an environment where your mentee feels comfortable learning and asking questions.
     
  • Objective: Your perspectives are valuable to your mentee. If you see opportunities, explore them further by asking, “Would you like to hear my view?” or “Do you think there may be another way to look at this?”
     
  • Authentic: Be your genuine self, and don’t try to provide direction in areas that are outside your knowledge and expertise.

2. Create your signature story

Take some time to reflect on key experiences in your career and the challenges you faced. How did they shape who you are today?

Think back to when you had to make a crucial decision that had a significant impact or when you accomplished something that made you proud. Leverage these experiences to create your signature story and have it ready to share with your mentee when the time is right.

3. Ask powerful questions

Make sure the questions you ask will create understanding, give clarity, and encourage discovery that will put your mentees on the path to finding their own answers. Powerful questions are:

  • Open-ended
  • Non-judgmental
  • Focused
  • Impactful.

A few examples of when your mentee needs help making an important decision would be:

  • “What are the critical factors at play in this situation?”
  • “What about this is important to you”?
  • “What are the strengths you could apply?”

Asking powerful questions like these will help mentees arrive at their own conclusions and determine what actions they need to take. This approach can’t be underestimated. It’s a must-have for every mentor’s toolkit.

Get more insight into how to be an effective professional mentor in this post.

4. Listen!

Don’t just listen to what your mentee is saying; listen to what they are NOT saying. Tune in to their body language and tone of voice. Try to understand the message they’re trying to convey by asking clarifying questions.

Be empathetic and put yourself in their shoes. This kind of listening plays a vital role in creating a space for mentees to feel acknowledged and valued and goes a long way in creating a lasting bond with your mentee.

5. Remember — mentoring is a two-way street

A common misconception is that mentoring is all about the mentee, but the fact is that mentoring relationships are reciprocal. As a mentor, you can advance your leadership and communication skills, broaden your professional network, and gain new perspectives and insights you wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. You also get the satisfaction of seeing another person succeed because of your support and guidance.

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to mentoring. But there is something even more powerful than knowledge or skill that cannot be taught. It’s the desire to give back and help others, which is a matter of the heart. Are you ready?

For additional resources on mentoring, and to learn about International Mentoring Day, visit Mentoring.org.

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