9 Tips to Be the Best Mentor Ever

Being a mentor is extremely rewarding, so why not be the best mentor ever?

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Mentoring is an immensely fulfilling experience for those involved, in addition to being valuable to the mentee, it provides some fantastic advantages for the mentor. Mentoring is all about supporting an individual to grow both personally and professionally, whilst building an effective relationship that enables development and progression. Mentoring relationships aren't always the easiest things to navigate, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro in no time. The difference between a mediocre mentor and a mentor that will change someone's life only requires a few small tweaks, but it’s worth it. At PushFar, we know a thing or two about mentoring as well as building flourishing relationships. Here are 9 ways you can be the best mentor ever:

1. Set expectations and goals
When you first begin your mentoring relationship with your mentee, it’s paramount to set expectations from the outset. It’s essential to clearly outline the expectations you have for your mentee, as well as the ones they have for you. You both need to mutually agree on the terms, which in the long-term, will help avoid conflict and produce a strong mentoring relationship. Setting goals allows for progress to be tracked and provides motivation for the mentee. Furthermore, it allows the mentor to identify where support and direction need to be given. This means priorities can be confirmed by all parties involved, allowing for a clear schedule to be put in place.

2. Deliver honest feedback and criticism
Being an exemplary mentor is about discovering ways to effectively deliver criticising and feedback to your mentee, without judging or offending them. While this means you shouldn’t filter your feedback to protect their feelings, there are methods to deliver criticism without destroying the mentee's confidence. Sometimes, people need to hear things others aren’t willing to tell them, to grow and prosper.

When delivering feedback and constructive criticism, make sure to:

  • Keep things neutral - this means only offering feedback on things that can be actively adjusted and won’t be considered offensive, such as commenting on their personality.
  • Share your own mistakes - while delivering feedback is important for the mentee to thrive, it’s equally as important that you be willing to communicate your own mistakes and failures. This shows empathy and compassion.
  • Say something positive - when delivering feedback, it’s essential to also point out the positives of the situation.
  • Offer guidance - there’s no point in offering feedback, without offering them guidance on how they can enhance and develop. Your mentee looks to you for input and support, you must be able to provide that to them.
3. Be empathetic
Being empathetic is one of the fundamental qualities an individual needs to be a good mentor. It’s important to relate to your mentees, gaining a deeper understanding of their perspective and connecting with them on a more in-depth level. Being empathetic and understanding the feelings of the mentee also permits the best decisions and approaches to be constructed when navigating them on their journey. For example, if the mentee is feeling overwhelmed in the workplace, assure them that they can take it one step at a time, supplying them with the support and direction they need to overpower their feelings and complete their goals.

4. Communicate and listen
Listening skills are just as significant as communication skills, and are vital for building a wonderful mentoring relationship. To be a great mentor, you need to be engaged, whilst effectively communicating and listening to the needs and queries of your mentee. For the mentee, having someone they can have honest communications with, within their industry, is one of the most prominent benefits of having a mentor in the first place. Listening to your mentee, makes their problems feel heard and makes them feel like you're truly invested in the relationship.

5. Let the mentee make their own decisions
Typically, the mentee is more knowledgeable and has more expertise than the mentee, whilst it might feel like the easiest option is to tell the mentee what to do, it’s important to let the mentee make decisions for themselves. However, this isn’t how mentoring relationships should operate, with the role of the mentor being to help support the mentee on their journey, not to complete it for them. An example of this would be showing the mentee how to do a task and then asking them to try it for themselves. You can also provide your mentee tasks to complete outside your meetings, so they can continue practising their skills without your assistance. Your mentee needs to feel challenged as well as pushed outside of their comfort zone, this is a critical skill they need to learn and the only way they can truly develop.

6. Take interest in the mentee
A mentoring relationship is truly personal and unique. While you need to understand the professional challenges and goals of the mentee, it’s hard to form a trustful relationship without knowing a person. It’s recommended to spend some time at the start of your mentoring relationship taking a genuine interest in the mentee. Understanding more about the mentee, on a personal level, will construct trust and let honest communication be achieved throughout your sessions. Learning who your mentee is as a person also enables better advice to be given as it’s tailored to who they are as a person, what they like, what they dislike and how they view the world. For example, if your mentee communicates that they went for lunch with friends, don’t just move on to the next career topic, instead, ask them about where they went, who with or even what they had for dinner. It’s a simple way to go from a mediocre mentor to the best they’ve ever had.

7. Celebrate milestones
Remaining positive during your mentoring relationship with your mentee is necessary for trust and respect to be built. It’s respectful to honour the milestones they achieve, with a good mentor taking the time to track the success of their mentee and celebrating when they achieve their goals. Celebrating milestones makes the relationship stronger, as well as boosting the mentee's confidence and making the mentee feel more motivated to achieve their goals and aims. As humans, we need to be recognised when we do well, it’s what motivates us to continue on our journey and achieve more things in the future.

8. Provide contacts and resources
When speaking with your mentee, listen carefully to the areas in which they want to develop and look for opportunities to help them face their challenges. When speaking with your mentee, suggest resources such as books, podcasts, or classes that you feel they would benefit from. If you have connections in the industry or know someone that you feel would be a great fit to help your mentee, then introduce them to one another.

9. Enjoy it
Last but not least, remember to enjoy your mentoring relationship with your mentee. Mentoring should be a pleasant experience for those involved, engaging in rich conversations and challenging one another to prosper. Mentoring relationships are about creating healthy and thriving relationships that benefit both the mentor and mentee. Being a mentor allows you to gain new perspectives into your career and personal life, with the mentee able to share valuable knowledge and insight into new trends or technology in the industry, that you might not have even heard of. It’s extremely gratifying to help guide another person to make life-changing decisions in their life and help them fulfil their goals.

Final thoughts

Being a mentor is a fun experience that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. The chance to assist another person to grow and develop is extremely rewarding. The next time you get asked to be a mentor, remember to consider these tips, it could lead to life-changing opportunities. To become a mentor, sign up for PushFar, the world's leading mentoring and career progression software, for free today.
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