Get the best tips & tricks for HR and L&D leaders straight into your inbox
Sign Up for the Newsletter


How to be a good mentor

We've seen a lot of great mentors through our experience helping many companies run mentorship programs. Here are some tips to be a great mentor.


January 3, 2019

Mentorship programs are a unique opportunity to connect with and make a difference in the life of a co-worker.

A good mentor is also a good teacher. It is expected that they will impart their knowledge and wisdom to the mentee. This transfer of knowledge helps prepare the employee to take over in the case of workplace succession. It also helps the mentee understand the workplace culture or policies better.

Benefits of mentoring

The benefits of mentoring extend to more than just the mentee. A mentor and even the organization can both see the value of a workplace mentoring program.

Here are some of the top benefits for the mentor:

  • advanced leadership skills
  • communication tools
  • strengthen interpersonal skills
  • learning opportunity
  • giving back
  • personal satisfaction
  • share knowledge

Tips for mentoring

When it comes to ensuring a successful mentorship relationship, there are some ways to improve your chances. From establishing expectations to setting goals to connecting the mentee to your network, here are some tips to help you get the most out of a workplace mentoring program.

  1. Both the mentor and mentee need to be on the same page when it comes to expectations of the mentoring relationship. It is best to discuss these expectations so that you are both clear on what you hope to accomplish and what you want from the mentoring program. This also includes how you expect each other to behave during meetings and towards one another.
  2. A good mentoring program should revolve around goals for the relationship. Mentees need to be clear on what they hope to gain out of the mentoring relationship. A mentor can take the lead in helping the mentee define what they want to learn or accomplish from their time with you. Break down the goal into smaller, attainable steps. This will help you both know you are on the right track.
  3. Make connections. One of the best benefits of a mentoring program for the mentee is having doors opened to a new network of connections. If you feel that the mentee is serious about their professional growth you should introduce them to some members of your network. This will help them expand their list of contacts.
  4. Give your mentee freedom to learn by making their own decisions. While it might be simpler to guide your mentee by giving them instructions on what to do, it won’t help them develop the capability to solve problems. So, even if you know the answer let your protégé give it a shot.
    How to be a good mentor
  5. A good mentor is a combination of a trusted teacher, wise advisor, and helpful supporter. Depending on the nature of the relationship, you will need to be each of these at different times. Always try and keep the mentee at the center of the relationship and do what is best for their personal and professional development.
  6. One of the ways to establish yourself as a good mentor is in your approach to the relationship and individual mentee. Treat each person you mentor as an individual and respond to their personal expectations of the mentoring relationship.
  7. Unlike other professional connections, a mentorship has the possibility of establishing a personal connection between the mentor or mentee. Therefore, it helps to become interested in your mentee on a personal level. Find out what their interests are, how they spend their time and even who the important people are in their lives. A good mentor celebrates life events and accomplishments with the mentee.
  8. Remember that you may be the one with the most advice, but a workplace mentoring program can also be a learning opportunity for the mentor. Younger mentees may be able to teach you about new approaches or technologies that you can incorporate into your work or life.
  9. Essentially, a good mentoring relationship can be one that lasts longer than just six or 12 months. A mentee and mentor can make a connection that will benefit both sides for years to come.

Tips to Train Mentors

Training for mentors is a crucial element for developing a successful workplace mentoring program. While good mentors should have substantial experience in their field, they will also need to be trained in communication and leadership skills.

If a mentor has been properly prepared and trained, they will have a more positive impact on the workplace. A badly trained mentor, on the other hand, could have a negative impact and leave a string of mentees who are poorly trained and have low morale.

To ensure that mentors are fully equipped, they will need to be trained in goal setting, motivating, relationship building, communications techniques, and leadership tools. If a mentor has these skills, is aware of the workplace culture and policies they will be a good mentor.

Questions a Mentor Needs toAsk

To establish boundaries, goals and a successful mentorship relationship, a mentor should be prepared to lead the way with some questions. The answers to these questions will help direct the mentoring relationship.

  • How do you define success? This is one of the questions that should help the mentee define what goals they have for themselves and their future.
  • What do you want to accomplish professionally and personally? This question will get to the heart of the issue. It will help the mentee define what they hope to do in the next few years. What they want to accomplish will be the basis for the goals that the mentor and mentee define together.
  • How are you working towards accomplishing those things? If a mentor is aware of what the mentee has been doing to achieve their goals, they will have a better idea on what next to come next.
  • What obstacles are standing in your way? If the mentee can identify the things that have been preventing them from reaching their goals, both the mentee and mentor will be able to identify ways to overcome them.
  • How can a mentorship help you accomplish your goals? Essentially, a mentee needs to be clear on what they hope to gain from the mentoring relationship. Once this has been established a mentor should assess their skills and abilities and see how they can best apply themselves to the mentoring relationship.

close button

Download our Full Report on Mentoring

We interviewed and surveyed employees from 50+ leading North American Companies including McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, IBM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Capital One, Norton Rose Fulbright, Mackenzie Investments. Get the results below.