Becoming a Great Mentor

Every accounting and finance professional who’s had a mentor knows how valuable the experience can be. But mentoring relationships aren’t just about helping mentees learn the ropes of a job or build their careers. They can also provide growth opportunities for the mentor.

In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, chief financial officers cited the internal satisfaction that came through helping someone else succeed as the greatest benefit of being a mentor. Others top perks reported include the chance to develop more leadership skills and expand their professional networks.

Here are three tips to help you become a great mentor:

1. Choose your mentee carefully

Forging a successful mentor relationship doesn’t always mean taking the newest hires on your team under your wing. In some cases, mentoring an employee from a different department is an effective strategy. This way, newer staff members may feel more comfortable asking questions about the culture or certain procedures they don’t want to ask their immediate supervisors.

You also could become a mentor to someone outside of your firm, providing career guidance and industry insights to him or her. In a twist to the traditional setup, you may even have the opportunity to advise a more senior executive in a reverse mentoring arrangement.

2. Be available

You'll probably find it easy to maintain the mentor relationship during the first few weeks or months, but as things pick up at work, it may become easier to let your mentoring duties fall by the wayside.

You can easily avoid this problem by including specific mentoring activities in your schedule. Set aside a recurring date to grab lunch or monthly one-on-one meetings for the two of you to chat about things going on at work, for example.

3. Hold each other accountable

Part of becoming a great mentor involves opening a two-way channel for feedback. Whenever you provide your advice, make sure to watch for improvement and follow up when it’s appropriate.

Ask your mentee to do the same for you. The more equal your partnership, the more mutually beneficial it will be.

Ultimately, the mentor-mentee relationship should be a growth opportunity for both parties. Not only should it give you a way to help a colleague ease into the company culture or advance professionally, but it should also provide him or her an avenue to share wisdom with you.

How have mentors helped shape your finance career path? Share your stories in the comments.