7 steps to becoming a mentor

- May 03, 2018

One of the important considerations to make in finding your next workplace is their commitment to the growth and development of their employees.

Does your organisation have a mentoring scheme in place?

Mentoring builds confidence, and encourages people to step up to the next level, speak about their ideas and to work collaboratively. By being a mentor for team members in your workplace, you can provide valuable coaching and support to aspiring leaders.

This quote from American politician John Crosby sums up the foundations of successful mentoring:

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction.

If you’re thinking about becoming a mentor for someone in your business, here are the seven steps to get you there.

    1. Establish goals and expectations

What are your mentee’s interests? What are their goals? Understand their aspirations, their strengths and their passions. Not only does this build rapport so your mentee feels comfortable in being able to approach you for advice, but it also gives you an understanding of what skills they might be looking to learn from you.

Lay down your expectations from the beginning about how and when you will keep in touch, whether this is in the form of a simple coffee catch-up every now and then or as more formal, scheduled meetings.

    2. Actively listen

Most people avoid talking about work-related problems with their fellow team members. To be a mentor, you must actively listen, pay attention to not just what the mentee is saying but also to what they may be conveying in their body language, and listen without judging. If there are signs that a challenge or problem is proving difficult for your mentee to talk about, gently encourage them to open up. This is an invaluable way to help unlock leadership potential.

    3. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know

Under your leadership, our mentee is probably looking for a circle of contacts (notably leaders in the industry) to learn from. Find ways to introduce them to people in your network, especially to those you think possess particular skills or experiences that they could benefit from. Look for opportunities to nominate them for projects or tasks which could help them either actively demonstrate existing strengths or enable them to gain more experience in their area of interest.

    4. Sharing is caring

A successful mentoring relationship involves sharing experiences. Share your own challenges. How did you overcome them at the time? Would you do anything differently now? Share mistakes you’ve made in your career journey; this is often where you’ve learned your own biggest lessons. Remember to facilitate the two-way exchange and discuss each other’s experiences.

    5. Show, don’t tell

The role of a mentor isn’t to solve the mentee’s problem; it’s to guide the mentee in reaching their own solution. You’re not supposed to be a book of answers. By offering similar experiences of your own and being a non-judgmental sounding board, your mentee will reach their own conclusions. People learn more when they ultimately solve a problem themselves.

    6. Be their cheerleader

Your mentee might have the tendency to be modest and perhaps isn’t confident in talking about where their talents and strengths lie. Be a cheerleader for them. Help them break down any doubts and mental limitations they might have. Encourage them to venture outside of their comfort zone; remind them that this is the only way to progress. If the timing is right, champion them to others within the organisation.

    7. Give honest feedback

Foster a relationship where you communicate openly and honestly. Be a cheerleader, but balance this with providing constructive feedback. Make sure you say what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Encourage them to self-reflect, not only on what they’ve done well but also on what they could be doing better.




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