What Makes A Good Mentor?
There are several suggestions and opinions written in books and online on what makes a good mentor. Here are some of the qualities (not in any particular order) I believe are necessary to be a good mentor:
1. Good listener This is essential because really without listening, you cannot go ahead and expect to achieve many of the other items below. As the saying goes, ‘listening is not waiting for your turn to talk.’
Listen actively by repeating back (paraphrasing) what was said if necessary, and ask questions. Questions are always great, it helps you as mentor to learn more and also helps the mentee to think further about the conversation, issue or topic.
2. Supportive A mentor should be willing to help their mentee by passing on knowledge, insight and expertise in relevant matters. It is not right to withhold helpful information or assistance from your mentee simply because you deem it to be ‘character building’, or because you reached your current status without any help from anyone and therefore think it is fitting for your mentee to do the same. Be supportive. It is good practice to introduce them to your relevant contacts.
3. Honesty Always be honest and real with your mentee. Be honest in who you are and don’t try to pretend you know everything. Don’t ‘blag’ to present yourself in a better light. Be truthful when giving feedback too.
4. Genuinely care Be empathetic. Mentors should care about the needs, success, aims and goals of their mentees. It also helps mentors to keep motivated. Mentees will know if we genuinely care or pretend to care.
5. Committed Be committed to the mentoring relationship and the development of your mentee.
6. Believes in Potential As a mentor, it is important to understand that everyone has potential. It is imperative for a mentor to believe in the potential of his/her mentee. It is essential to recognise the potential and encourage it from an early stage in the mentoring relationship. A good mentor should always be encouraging.
7. Focused on Mentee’s Agenda This may sound obvious, but it still needs to be stated. We may be tempted to pull or push our mentees in the direction we ‘feel’ they should be going. Sometimes, that direction may happen to be part of our own personal agenda. Mentoring should never be about the mentor’s agenda. A mentor should give good guidance which should help the mentee to hopefully make decisions that will assist them to achieve their own goals.
8. Provide feedback Feedback is essential for the relationship. It is helpful for the mentor to provide the mentee with feedback, making him/her aware of his/her strengths and weaknesses and how to utilise or enhance them.
Feedback from the mentee should also be welcomed as it will also help the mentor to learn and develop.
9. Trustworthy Be trustworthy. Keep conversations confidential. I suggest a confidentiality agreement is drawn up and signed at the beginning of the first mentoring session.
10. Inspirational Mentors should be a source of inspiration; someone to learn or glean from. Good mentors are constantly learning and developing - trying to improve themselves in one way or another. They motivate themselves as well as others.
I hope these ten tips have been useful. If so, please let me know by commenting. Also feel free to share your own tips on what makes a good mentor.
If you are thinking of becoming a mentor, I would especially like to hear from you; please send me an inbox message on facebook or send an email to info@JoinedUpThinking.uk.com.
(c) JoinedUpThinking 2016