Guidelines & FAQs about How To Mentor
Before we dive into providing guidelines on how to mentor, how to be mentored and how mentoring works, we thought we would cover off a few FAQs about mentoring.
What is mentoring?
Everyone has their own perception of what it is to be a mentor or to be mentored, but at PushFar we believe that mentoring is quite simple. We believe that mentoring is simply one professional aiding and assisting another professional in any capacity. Mentoring could take as basic a form as sitting with a professional for 20 minutes to discuss a challenge they are facing with their boss. Or even as little as simply exchanging a series of emails or messages about recommendations for a job interview. Or, mentoring could be as involved as weekly catch-up calls, meetings and coffee dates to discuss the week's professional progress, job promotions, internal office politics and reaching career goals. Mentoring, put quite simply, is helping.
Who can be a mentor?
Nowadays, there are several different types of mentoring. Traditional mentoring was the act of a senior and experienced individual in an industry acting as a support and adviser to someone less experienced. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of mentoring is just this - “An experienced person in a company or educational institution who trains and counsels new employees or students.” And while this is largely still the case, there are other mentoring techniques and types popping up, such as reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is, as it suggests, where new, junior and less-experienced individuals’ mentor those who’ve been in the industry or a specific company for considerably longer. The idea behind this is that those with a fresh, new perspective can help to push change. Almost everyone is ultimately capable of being a mentor. Anyone who believes they have experience or insight and can offer valuable support and advice to another individual can be a mentor.
What are the benefits of mentoring?
At PushFar, we're firmly set on the belief that a mentor can help with a huge number of aspects of an individual's career, its challenges and achievements too. A mentor could help you with interview training, updating your resume or CV, providing insight into a certain industry, assisting you with keeping in touch with industry trends and standards, office conflict, management challenges and a whole host of additional aspects of the working world. Some people question why a mentor is a better option than a friend and we firmly believe that it is important to keep the right work/life balance. With mentoring, professionals can help to provide an outside, unbiased, fair and experienced opinion, advice and support where friends and family might not be able to. Being able to speak to someone more experienced who can guide one through their career is so important. Equally, for a mentor, it can be hugely rewarding training and aiding a mentee. Passing on one's experience, knowledge and insight is a great way of giving back and can even help personal growth too.
Why should companies offer mentoring programmes?
Mentoring has been proven, in studies and research from Gallup, Deloitte and several others, to help with employee engagement, employee retention and overall employee upskilling too. By offering mentoring programmes and schemes for employees, you will actively encourage both mentors and mentees to think about their career, their objectives and how they can achieve goals and aims within their role and their wider career journey. What is more, mentoring can help companies and organisations to drastically reduce coaching and training costs, by focusing on sharing knowledge that already exists in-house.
How can I find a mentor or mentee?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. PushFar is the fastest-growing, openly available mentoring network. We have thousands of professionals, students and recently retired individuals offering to help and provide mentoring, seeking mentoring and collaborating on mentoring. Joining the PushFar network is completely free and as well as offering mentor matching, the platform helps you to progress your career with additional tasks and features such as networking, upskilling recommendations, local business event recommendations and much more too. When you join PushFar you can specify whether you are looking for a mentor, a mentee or both.
How to Mentor
Below are PushFar’s guidelines for career mentoring. These are merely recommendations and while everyone has their own idea of how mentoring should be conducted, these guidelines have been collated together with review, insight and advice from some of the world’s leading HR directors, organisations and mentoring programmes.
The Introductory Call or Meeting
Whether over a phone call, video call or in-person meeting, an introductory meeting is an essential first-step for mentoring. The introductory meeting should cover off the following points and it is important to discuss these openly and honestly, straight away:
Do not be afraid to set the expectations at this stage – it makes the entire mentoring process a lot easier and you will be starting off on the right foot. The meeting can last however long both parties wish for it to. We would recommend either a 30 minute or an hour-long meeting.
- How often should you both meet or call?
- How long should the mentoring relationship last?
- What can the mentor offer?
- What is the mentee looking for?
Setting the Expectations
This is something we reference a lot and that is because it is important to set expectations at the start of a mentoring relationship. As a mentor, it is vital that your mentee knows about your background and experience but also that they know what level of support you are willing and able to offer them. Is this a call once a month or is it a coffee every quarter? Set those expectations and be clear on what you can realistically help with.
Listen and Ask Questions
To be a good mentor, it is important to listen first and foremost. Listen to your mentee’s challenges and help to guide them through exactly what it is that they need in order to develop and grow. At the same time, make sure that you are asking the right questions of your mentee. Ask about the challenges and problems being faced, or what your mentee’s goals are and ensure that you are both clear on exactly what the situation is. By asking questions you should ensure you are encouraging self-reflection and rather than providing mentees with answers, give them to the tools and guidance to find the answers themselves.
Offer Experience-Based Guidance
We learn from our failures and from the mistakes we make, far more than we learn from our successes. Therefore, the more we encourage mentoring, the more we can grow and reduce the mistakes and failures we make. In mentoring, it is important to provide experience-based guidance and help your mentee to not repeat mistakes. You are primarily a mentor because you are in a position of experience (in most cases, although reverse mentoring is different) and therefore if you can pass this experience, knowledge and insight onto your mentee, you will help them to develop and grow.
Meet & Catch-up at Regular Intervals
During a mentoring relationship, it is worth meeting or speaking with your mentee once or twice a month. Some mentoring relationships work best when having a longer catch-up every quarter. However, most mentoring relationships and partnerships will see both parties meeting or speaking on a call once a month. During these meetings, go through the things that the mentee has achieved and done in the previous month, where the sticking points and challenges have been and how goals are being met. These meetings can be anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours long. Set time aside to really focus on these meetings and during the meeting also work out what the mentee would like to achieve in the month ahead, before the next meeting. Having clear, actionable objectives and goals is sometimes, but not always, the best way to do this.
Ending a Mentoring Relationship
Knowing when to wind-down and end a mentoring relationship can often be tricky. Regularly what happens is that one or both parties simply stop meeting and arranging catch-up sessions. This is fine but is far from ideal. Instead, if you feel that either your mentee is not engaged or that you are beginning to feel unable to further support, it is best to have an upfront conversation and decide either to end the relationship then and there or to have a set end time. If you had a successful introductory mentoring meeting, then you should have already discussed the length of time you are looking to mentor anyway, so do use this as a guide. At the end, discuss the things you have covered off during the relationship and use it as a time to reflect on where the mentee (and mentor) were at in the beginning and where they have got to now.
Mentoring Solutions: PushFar
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