Who Can Be a Mentor?

May 25, 2019

Workplace mentorship programs have become a common way for organizations and companies to help their employees learn more, grow more and ultimately, lead to a more positive and productive workplace. In fact, 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have workplace mentoring programs for their employees.

Research also shows that mentoring programs in the workplace can help members of diverse groups, such as women and minorities. One study estimates mentoring programs can improve promotion and retention rates among minority men and women by 15 to 38 percent.

A key element in a successful mentoring program is the quality of the mentor. A good mentor can help open up career and networking possibilities for a mentee. They can also have a positive impact on company culture by helping integrate new hires effectively. Thus, finding the right fit for the mentor role is an important job.

There are several characteristics that you need to have to be a good mentor. These include:

  • Motivation
  • Communication skills
  • Enjoy learning
  • Team player
  • Committed
  • Positive attitude

What makes a good mentor?

There are several characteristics that a mentor should have in order to be effective in their position as guide or advisor for the mentee. Here are some of the things to look for in a good mentor:

Skilled and experienced in the field and industry: Employees who have worked in their area of expertise for some time and who have gained experience with the company will be the best fit. A mentor needs to know about their specific job, how they fit into the organization as a whole and also have wisdom about their industry.

Desire or motivated to share wisdom: Good mentors are those that not only have gained lots of knowledge and experience but are also motivated to share what they know with others. In particular, they must have an understanding and respect for the mentor-mentee relationship and take the workplace mentoring program seriously. Employees who have a knowledge base in their field as well as an understanding of the company culture will be the right fit. Those who may have memories of a positive mentorship in their lives will also be an ideal fit into an organization’s mentoring program.

Commitment to extra demands: Being a mentor can take a lot of time and energy. To be an effective mentor, the employee needs to be committed to putting in the extra time and effort. They need to demonstrate an understanding of what they are committing to and be willing to do what it takes to help make the relationship, and ultimately, the mentoring program work.  

Positivity: Good mentors are positive people. They see the glass as half full and have an optimistic view on life. In addition, they should also be good role models for others in the organization. A mentor is often a combination of advisor, guide and role model. Therefore, it is best to choice an employee who has demonstrated the ability to show others the right way to succeed.

Communicator: One of the most important factors in a mentoring relationship is good communication. Therefore, an employee who has proven they can communicate positively and effectively will make a good mentor. A mentor will need to provide guidance and give constructive feedback to the mentee. Thus, it is important that they know how to do so without being offensive or unhelpful. Rather, a good mentor is trained in the art of communication and can share feedback with others in a positive way.

Loves their job: In order to be a good mentor and pass along their knowledge, encouraging the mentee in the field and organization, the employee should enjoy what they do. If they are not interested in their field of expertise, they are not going to be able to develop enthusiasm in the mentee. In fact, if the mentor is not passionate about their job and can communicate the benefits of what they do, it may lead to a poor mentoring experience.

Enjoys learning: Employees that enjoy learning and are well-informed about their field will make the best mentors. These are those individuals who continuously learn about the changes and innovates happening in their industry. They read journals and attend workshops and other training sessions to stay ahead of the game. A person who is up-to-date about the field will be able to pass along that information to the mentee.

Team player: Individuals who can work well independently yet also contribute to a team effort will also be good choices for mentoring programs. These employees are often skilled at sharing with others as well as listening to co-employees. They usually value others and understand the importance of being part of a team in the workplace.

Emotionally intelligent: People who are emotionally intelligent have a good understanding of their own emotions and know how to be sensitive to others. This skill helps a mentor relate better to the mentee. They are often empathetic and can see things from another person’s perspective.

Conclusion

Mentoring programs have become a popular way for companies to reward their employees while boosting retention and loyalty. In addition, these mentorship experiences often lead to more productive and positive workplaces because of the many benefits a mentee and mentor get from the program.

In order to make a mentoring program successful for any organization is to find good mentors. This means selecting an employee with the right set of characteristics that will help a mentor-mentee relationship flourish. There are several characteristics that a good mentor needs to have including communication skills, dedication, knowledge, a love of learning, job satisfaction, emotionally intelligent, a team player and more.

Organizations and companies that can find the right combination of characteristics in their mentors will discover that their mentoring programs are positive and successful experiences for everyone involved.

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.
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