Mentors are valuable. Many successful people like Mark Zuckerberg, Mary Barra, P. Diddy, and more attribute their success to their mentors. Mentors can bring out the best in you, even before you know it. They listen, pay attention, and then guide you to become a better version of yourself.
And in the workplace, they can help you expand your skill set and succeed in your career. But what does it take to be a good mentor, and what responsibilities come with this privilege? Let’s have a look!
What is the role of a mentor?
One of the main purposes of mentor-mentee relationships is to help mentees grow and develop. But this looks different depending on the goals of your mentorship program. So, it is important to understand and map out the different responsibilities of a mentor. This will set the expectation of the mentorship and ensure mentors work towards common and clearly set goals.
A mentor guide helps meaningful change within a workplace’s landscape in many ways. From onboarding new hires to training high-potentials, mentors help mentees grow and develop. They share experiences, lessons learned, advice, support, and build a community of learning and trust. By doing this, your mentors help engage and retain employees, who then become hard-working and skilled individuals invested in your organization’s success.
Mentors play a critical role in the workplace
There’s a reason why many companies choose to include mentorship as part of their training and employee engagement programs. More than 9 in 10 workers with a mentor are satisfied with their jobs. Mentors bring a multitude of benefits not only to their mentees but also to the organization in general.
Here are some ways mentors help improve performance in the workplace:
- Understand and help mentees achieve career goals
- Share knowledge and skills
- Build the next generation of leaders and managers
- Improve performance and employment engagement
- Help new hires onboard more quickly and successfully
- Encourage collaboration and feedback
- Transfer knowledge about successes and failures
- Identify and promote diverse and high-potential talent
- Use their skills to teach and train others
- Retain top talent
- Support remote and hybrid work
- Build meaningful career- and growth-focused relationships
What mindsets should mentors bring to their mentoring relationship?
Now, every mentor is going to bring something different to the table. But some of the most common traits and qualities of mentors include a passion for helping others and communicating well. These two qualities help mentors recognize the value and importance of effective mentorship and their interactions with their mentees.
And during these interactions and meetings, mentors are inspired to guide mentees to the solution rather than providing the solutions. They may present problems, ask the right questions, and provide honest but constructive feedback.
These mentors are invested in the growth and success of their mentees. As such, they encourage curiosity, discovery, and enthusiasm. They help mentees learn from successes and failures as well as show them ways to connect with others.
This mindset not only benefits mentees but also gives room for mentors to do better themselves. Since they are open to learning, they will leave their mentor relationships with a few lessons of their own.
What are the four phases of a mentoring relationship?
While mentoring relationships will differ, there are four general phases of any workplace mentorship program. It is crucial to understand these phases and design your program accordingly. Let’s have a look at each mentoring phase:
Phase 1: Purpose
This is the beginning of a mentoring relationship where a mentee decides who they would like as a mentor to guide them in their career journey.
For a mentor, this occurs when they decide to participate in a mentorship program and provide that guidance. Here the individuals are looking to be paired with the right partner. They identify the purpose and goal of participating in a mentorship program and take the necessary steps to start the process.
Phase 2: Engagement
Once the mentor and mentee have found each other, they will start engaging and developing their relationship. This is where they will focus on getting to know each other and developing a plan to help the mentee achieve their goals.
This phase will include:
- Discussing and setting goals
- Identifying challenges and roadblocks
- Setting boundaries, guidelines, and expectations
- Building trust and learning about each other
Phase 3: Growth
This is the most important (and longest) part of the mentorship program. Here, the mentor and mentee will continue to deepen their professional relationship and grow closer to achieving their goals.
The main focus is on progress, so mentees may shadow their mentors, work on new projects and assignments, solve challenges, and more. For their part, mentors will provide guidance by listening actively and offering clear feedback.
Phase 4: Completion
This final stage occurs when the mentee has achieved their goals, and so the relationship comes to a natural end.
At this point, the mentee has learned new skills and knowledge and feels confident enough to continue learning without the need for guidance. Both mentors and mentees should feel closure at the end of their mentoring relationship.
10 Tips for being a great mentor
A mentor guide would be incomplete without including the best practices that make mentorship worthwhile.
Our mentor handbooks will tell you to set goals and milestones, evaluate every few sessions, create progress reports, and collect feedback. But that’s just the beginning.
To build the skills of a successful, here are 10 tips to consider:
1. Get to know each other
The first step to creating a successful mentor-mentee relationship is to take time to get to know our mentee and, in turn, tell them about yourself. You and your mentee need to be comfortable with each other.
Otherwise, your relationship will only be a superficial one instead of a meaningful one. So, take time out to get to know each other before you start diving into mentoring.
2. Identify and set goals with mentees
As you become familiar with each other, understand what the other wants from this relationship. Identify your mentees’ professional and personal goals and come up with a plan to help them achieve key milestones.
Keep in mind that these goals may change during the course of the mentorship, so be flexible and update them as needed.
3. Come prepared for every meeting
A common misconception about mentorship is that the mentee is the one who does all the work. After all, they are the ones who get the most out of the program.
However, that is not necessarily the case. Mentors need to put in as much time and effort as mentees if they want this mentoring relationship to be successful. Besides, mentors also have a lot to gain by teaching, training, and guiding newcomers and influencing change.
4. Make yourself available and approachable
The key to a successful mentoring relationship is ensuring your mentee can reach you. If you are hard to get a hold of, they may choose to continue the journey without you, and that defeats the purpose.
So, set aside times to meet, chat, and work together, and make sure you turn up. Don’t leave them hanging when they reach out for help.
5. Conduct regular check-ins and hold mentees accountable
Similarly, make sure you check in with mentors and mentees once in a while. Ask how they’re doing, if the approach is helping, and if they have any suggestions or feedback. If you’ve assigned them work, then ask how it is going and what they’re learning.
Hold them accountable if they miss something or appear to be slacking. Without both parties invested, the mentorship won’t be as successful as you’d like.
6. Identify key skills and coach mentees
Skill training and knowledge sharing are two essential components and benefits of any mentorship program.
You are not only upskilling your employees but also helping them learn more about the industry, their field, and other tricks of the trade. So, it’s important to pay attention to their goals and needs and identify which skills best align with them. Then, you can coach them or direct them to resources that will help.
7. Discuss strategies to achieve goals
Along with skills, you also want to discuss steps and prepare a plan to achieve these goals. For instance,
- would job shadowing be more useful than having your mentee do an online course? Or
- would they benefit more from networking and meeting other people with similar interests and job profiles?
- What would both of you like to accomplish in, say, the first three months and the next three, and so on?
Deciding this beforehand will ensure you both know what needs to be done to progress.
8. Connect mentees with others in the field
As a mentor and an experienced professional, you will have the advantage of meeting different people in different stages of their careers.
You can use this advantage to introduce your mentee to others who can further promote their growth. For instance, you can have them sit in on executive meetings or take them to conferences for your specific field.
Either way, make sure you teach them how to network so they can build more career-centric relationships.
9. Help mentees answer their own questions
Instead of providing them with solutions, guide and encourage them to find their own answers. This will spark more creativity and make them self-reliant.
You can always share your solutions so they can benefit from multiple perspectives. But it is a good idea to train them to think critically by themselves. This is easier to do in one-on-one mentoring.
10. Provide and ask for feedback
Finally, offer clear and constructive feedback and ask for feedback on your mentoring approach.
This doesn’t need to be done only at the end of a mentoring relationship. When you do your check-ins, give space for feedback. This will help you gauge where you and your mentee stand in the process of achieving goals.
It will also demonstrate if your approach is working or needs to be tweaked.
Introduce mentorship to your workplace
Working is stressful, and when you add in disengagement, low potential for growth, and other challenges, it is easy for employees to “check out” and for your organization to lose out.
Mentorships create an intentional space for learning and growth, for having fruitful discussions of what is dissuading employees from doing more, and for giving high-potential employees a chance to exceed their ranks.
This is how investing in a mentorship program will help your organization perform better. And Together is here to make this journey easy and comfortable. You can use our intuitive mentoring platform online to manage mentoring programs by effectively matching every employee with a relevant mentor. Want to learn more? Book a demo today!