Being a great mentor is about developing capability and potential in a person rather than fixating on an individual’s performance and skills.
We all go through a ‘behavioural’ journey throughout our career and this becomes more refined as we gain confidence and experience. But how do we use that insight and experience to benefit others?
- Understand that mentoring isn’t the same as coaching. The fundamental objective of mentoring is to support personal development and grow confidence levels and ability. The ultimate goal is to enable an individual to perform at a higher level.
- Be generous and open. Great mentoring is about drawing on your knowledge and experience to guide, advise and motivate others, whether an employee or a colleague.
- Try to keep it informal and intuitive and adapt it to suit the specific relationship and personality. As a mentor, you can extend advice and support beyond work, particularly in relation to issues regarding work/life balance. Happy staff will lead to higher job satisfaction, improved retention and loyalty to you and your organisation.
- Always opt for a one-to-one, face-to-face discussion so that subtleties of body language can be picked up. Eye contact and a willingness to pick up on what is not being said is vital.
- Let your mentee set the agenda and understand that it may be negotiable as the discussion develops. It is helpful to recap in writing afterwards to maintain focus and enable you and your mentee to review progress later.
- Realise that a fluid mentoring experience can open up new opportunities and different ways of seeing. This can lead to a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship. If the mentee is someone who reports to you directly, play down the reporting relationship to encourage openness and trust.
- As a mentor, your time with the mentee will give you enhanced insight into their potential and attitude. Consequently, keep succession building opportunities in mind when mentoring to create a route for progression within your organisation.