15 November 2017
Making the decision to mentor a young professional can be a rewarding experience. However, if you’ve only recently begun mentoring someone, it can be slightly awkward to step into this kind of role. Not only can it be strange to be seen as a person of authority in your field, but it can be challenging to find exactly the right advice for your mentee. With pressure to guide this person in the right direction and help them achieve success in their career, you may be unsure of the best approach in order to be an effective and positive mentor. To improve in your role as a professional mentor, start with these tips: Talk less, listen more As a mentor, you know that giving advice is important, and as a result, you may feel inclined to offer as much advice as possible. However, you want to be sure that you aren’t simply talking at your mentee. While you may want to offer as much insight as you can, it’s important to first understand your mentee and their situation. As a result, be sure that you ask a lot of questions and listen to your mentee. Before you tell them what they should be doing, you should first understand their: Current work situation Career goals Working style Other interests Remain objective When listening to your mentee’s challenges, be sure that you remain objective. While a mentor should ultimately be an advocate for their mentee, it’s also important that you guide them with feedback. When your mentee brings up an issue with their manager, for example, you should also think about the situation from the manager’s perspective. When you can offer your mentee another viewpoint, this can help your mentee improve their ability to resolve conflicts on their own in the future. Give them some space One of the biggest challenges of being a professional mentor is that sometimes your mentee will make decisions that you wouldn’t have made. However, it’s important to remember that you aren’t mentoring a mini-you; your mentee is their own person, and they must be allowed to make their own mistakes. While you may want to tell them exactly what to do in a given situation, exercise patience and try to offer them space to figure it out. While you can nudge them in the right direction, be sure that they can come to the decision on their own, and allow them to learn from their failures. Give constructive criticism when necessary While a professional mentor’s main role may be to encourage, that doesn’t mean that you should gloss over mistakes. It is very likely that your mentee will make several errors throughout their career, and it is crucial to call them out and offer support. When offering constructive criticism, be sure that you thoroughly explain your point of view, and offer suggestions on how they can improve. As a result, your mentee will appreciate your honestly and ultimately achieve more growth in their career. Don’t be shy with your perspective Especially if you’re a new mentor, it can feel awkward to give career advice to a younger professional, and it may feel strange that someone looks up to you so much. However, it’s important to remember that they look up to you for a reason. Additionally, like most professionals, you probably know more than you think you do. As a result, be sure that you offer your honest perspective on how your mentee should approach their challenges. Help them set achievable goals While the general objective of a professional mentor is to offer advice, you’re also there to help your mentee achieve their goals. These goals might include earning a promotion, searching for a new job, or even entering a new career field. While your mentee may have lofty goals, the key to achieving those is setting smaller, actionable goals. As a result, help your mentee create a plan and establish steps that they can take. For example, if they want to search for a new job, you might suggest that they set a goal of revising their resume within the next week.