So you want to be a mentor?

Good for you – and here’s hoping it’s good for your mentee too. Here are some reasons why people step up to the role of mentor in their organisation, professional body or community.

Good mentors want to:

  • Help and support others’ development
  • Develop their soft skills
  • Share their experience
  • Broaden their perspective
  • Be a better manager
  • Give something back to others

Being a mentor can take up a chunk of your time, so it’s not for those who fancy dabbling with mentoring merely as a way of grabbing bragging rights with senior management. As well as time, you’ll need to have these qualities (or be prepared to develop them, fast):

Empathy – can you put yourself in another’s shoes? Building empathy through mentoring conversations means listening as well as talking. Can you listen well, without interrupting?

Curiosity – how will you stay curious about what’s going on for the mentee and what’s going on for you as you go through the process?

Respect – your mentee may be very different to you (which may be why you’re their mentor). How will you deal with any biases you spot creeping in?

Patience – your mentee may not work at the same pace as you. They may want to see progress, and fast. Or they may find it more challenging than you would to take action. How will you hold each other to account?

Both you and your mentee will need to know how the mentoring process works. In some communities of practice, it can be entirely virtual and very informal. In some organisations there’s a matching process, ground-rules to observe and evidence of progress required. However the process you’re involved with works, be sure get answers to your ‘but what if…?’ questions before you start.

By now, you may be questioning whether being a mentor really is for you. The mentee gets the opportunity to have conversations with someone more experienced; discuss their situation, generate ideas and benefit from having a supportive sounding board.

What’s in it for the mentor?

Many mentors report that they learn a great deal from the role about other people’s perspectives, the wider organisation and its current challenges. Mentors also have the opportunity to develop leadership skills away from the day-to-day demands of their job. What’s more, mentors say they find the role fulfilling*, giving meaning to their work.

If you want to discuss how mentoring can work for your workplace, please get in touch.

You may find this post useful: ‘Should you get a mentor?’

Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’

*Kennett, P. & Lomas, T. (2015). ‘Making meaning through mentoring: Mentors finding fulfilment at work through self-determination and self-reflection’. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring. 13. 29-44.

 

 

 

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