“What is a teacher? I'll tell you: it isn't someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
Have you ever thought if it would be worthwhile to receive mentorship? Perhaps you are a skilled individual who could become a mentor to someone who is just starting out. Whatever the case, this article will highlight not only mentor responsibility but will prove just how valuable to society they truly are.
What Makes A Great Mentor?
Not just anyone can be a mentor. These highly skilled professionals have strong leadership skills and extensive experience within their prospective industry. However, these are not the only criteria required to qualify someone as a mentor.
Here is a list of what makes someone the whole package and mentor material.
- They genuinely want to see their mentees realize their potential. Great mentors do not gatekeep industry secrets or information. They express a strong desire to share their knowledge and help others succeed. Even better, exceptional mentors are often ecstatic when their mentees far exceed their expectations or excel quicker than they did. This is because they know that educating the next generation of professionals benefits them as well. Imagine knowing you helped facilitate the creation of the next successful entrepreneur or superstar professional at your company.
- They’re emotionally intelligent. Coaching others is not the easiest job, even if it is something you are passionate about. It requires not only a time investment but an emotional one as well. That’s why it is so important for mentors to keep their mental health in shape so they can be great communicators, possess great listening skills, and are able to express empathy.
- They provide direction, not orders. Mentors are not rigid in their delivery by any means. They are excellent teachers that gently guide mentees to develop their skills. They provide honest and helpful feedback and ask thought-provoking questions that encourage their mentees to blossom on their own. The overall flexibility mentors provide sets them apart from a standard relationship with a manager. A genuine mentor facilitates a connection that is almost friendship-like and provides a safe place for mentees to grow.
- They unlock portals to new and desirable opportunities. Given their years of experience and countless trial and error, mentors undoubtedly have an impressive list of connections to their specific industry. This is beneficial to the mentee because, as someone who is still learning, they will need all the help they can get. Mentors that generously connect their mentees with other like-minded individuals open up an entirely new world of possibilities and set them up for success in the long run.
- They have diverse perspectives. In addition to their invaluable knowledge, mentors have likely met a wide variety of individuals that they have taken wisdom and inspiration from. As a result, they have developed a unique viewpoint of the industry they’re in and exude originality in their teaching style. Diversity is the key to growth in our society, especially in the business world. Mentors that share their wealth of different perspectives ensure that valuable knowledge gets passed down to generations, which gives birth to innovation in the future.
Now that we’ve unpacked the characteristics that set great mentors apart, let’s look at the core responsibilities of mentors.
What Are The Responsibilities Of A Mentor?
Set Goals With Mentees
Though this responsibility is frequently revisited throughout your relationship with your mentees, the bulk of goal setting typically happens on the first meeting or refreshed every year. Setting goals provides direction and acts as a guide for the ultimate success of your mentee and can even help support your reputation as a mentor.
To fulfill your mentor's responsibility of setting goals with your mentees, start by having a meeting over coffee or a quiet place at the office to write down goals and create a detailed game plan. Studies show that writing down goals will increase their chances of achievement by 42%, and with you as their accountability partner, that percentage will increase.
Hold Mentees Accountable
Accountability is the enemy of procrastination. As a mentor, one of the most important responsibilities to fulfill is holding your mentees accountable to stay on track to achieving their goals. This means encouraging them to meet deadlines, be on top of their networking game, and be the confidence boost they need to succeed.
One of the most foolproof ways to hold your mentees accountable is to schedule weekly meetings or calls with them. This will give you a transparent view of how they are progressing towards their goals, provides an opportunity to listen to their worries, and end with a pep talk that reiterates their “why” for achieving their goals.
Help Mentees Answer Their Own Questions
You may very well have valuable advice to offer your mentees, but that doesn’t mean it all applies to their own unique career journeys. That’s why simply giving them the answer you think is right is not always helpful to mentees. Instead, asking them thought-provoking questions and reminding them of their goals will help them arrive at a conclusion all on their own.
You can give your mentees all the tools and knowledge you have to succeed, but once you do, it’s important to help them apply that knowledge to their own personal situation. Doing so builds confidence and affirms to your mentee that they can be a reliable source as well.
Connect Mentees To Others
In many industries, your network is your gateway to success. Introducing your mentees to other successful professionals exposes them to a variety of perspectives and experiences. In fact, you could go as far as to say that doing so accelerates employee development, highlight diverse talent, encourages collaboration, and bridges the gap between generations.
As you progress on your professional journey with your mentees, consider inviting one of your trusted colleagues to one of your weekly meetings. You can even meet over coffee to provide a more casual setting for connection and networking to ensue. It is important to choose people that you know have valuable advice to offer that applies to your mentee’s journey and goals.
Coach Them On The Skills You’re An Expert In
Another important skill to fulfill your responsibility as a mentor is coaching. If you’re a mentor, chances are you have a multitude of skills under your belt that you could be considered an expert in. It is vital to pass your expertise onto your mentees, as they could be built upon in the future.
For instance, if you are an expert in time management or perhaps a skill relative to your shared industry, you could show your mentees specific case studies where you applied those skills. Be sure to clearly identify the problem, show them what steps you took to solve it, then ask them to think of a situation where they could apply the skill to their own careers.
Make Yourself Available To Them
Your mentees can’t benefit from you if your schedule is too packed to make time for them. Understandably, unexpected events may turn up, and busy seasons may occur, but for the most part, it is important to make at least one day a week dedicated to your mentees.
Each meeting does not have to be rigid, nor does it have to be in person. Simply making time for your mentees to talk about a variety of topics such as specific problems to solve, catching up on goal progress, or using that time for encouragement should serve to refresh you both for the upcoming week or work days ahead.
Come Prepared For Every Meeting
Even though meetings with your mentees are not required to be formal, you still want to prepare enough, so they have direction. One way you can do this is by keeping in touch with your mentees each week. Keep track of any potential issues or insecurities that might come up and use that as inspiration for your next meeting.
Of course, you and your mentee can always redirect the meeting elsewhere if there are more pressing issues to cover beforehand. Overall, it is always a good idea to have a general guideline to come back to or draw connections to for maximum productivity.
A Word Of Caution About Burning Out
As you can see, mentoring is essentially another full-time job and comes with its fair share of challenges. Burnout is not uncommon and can be destructive to you and your mentee’s relationship. Not to mention how damaging it can be to your reputation when you let it get out of hand. Knowing the signs and asking for help can help mitigate the risk of burning out.
Bring Mentorship To Your Organization With Together
Clearly, mentors are a fundamental part of a successful organization. Not only are they emotionally intelligent and introspective, but they also want to see the next generation of industry leaders flourish by providing expertise, network, and goal facilitation to their mentees.
It has never been easier to build a dynamic mentorship program. With Together, you never have to worry about pairing the right employee with the right mentor. The platform’s intelligent algorithm takes organizational information to accurately match mentors and mentees that would have the highest chance of increased productivity and growth.
With powerful automation and reporting tools, integrating Together for your mentorship program is a no-brainer!