Strategies for being a great mentor

Strategies for being a great mentor (Part 2)

Welcome back! Or if you only just finished the first part of this blog post, welcome to Part 2! 

Ongoing mentorship strategies

Once, you’ve worked through the initial steps of building rapport with your mentee, refer to the following strategies to keep successful momentum going.

1. Review progress regularly

It goes without saying that time should be set aside to regularly review performance. A short weekly catch up along with a longer monthly meeting is a recommended approach. The weekly meeting will help keep those goals in front of mind and allow you to spot any problems early so you can take an alternative approach to the goal or give advice when needed. Your monthly meeting will allow you additional time to fully assess and re-prioritise goals.

If your mentee is struggling to achieve their aims, discuss the challenges they’ve faced and found ways to help them tackle these more effectively. Help them to see any failures as a learning curve.

2. Create a culture of trust

Let your mentee know they can trust you to be confidential and then prove your trustworthiness. If they feel like you’ll report everything they say to your office pal or manager, then you’ll likely never get to know their honest thoughts which will be a hindrance in helping them.

A further way to build trust is by being humble and letting your mentee know that you’re open to learning from them too. Encourage them to talk to you about new ideas they have, or new industry news and trends they’ve learnt.

3. Be their biggest fan

Sounds cheesy right? But if you’re going to encourage your mentee to share ideas and be completely honest with you, then you need to remain optimistic with them. This includes when they bring slightly out-there ideas or unrealistic ambitions to you – discuss what elements of these ideas are good before moving onto why they might not work. See how you can apply some aspects of their ideas elsewhere or build on them to make them functional. Be sure to thank them for their efforts too – be a giver of energy, not a taker!

4. Avoid inadvertently pushing your own agenda

A study from Harvard Business Review found that mentors have a tendency to unconsciously push their subordinates to pursue goals and career progressions that mirror their own life choices. Remember you’re there to advise from your own experience, but make sure they’re choosing their own path based on their interests and the skills they want to develop. You never know what new revenue streams or important new roles their choices could lead too.

5. Open doors for your mentee

A good mentor finds opportunities for their mentee and ensures they’re aiming high. This means letting them know about opportunities they may not have thought about yet, giving them a chance to look beyond their current vision. Great mentors also create opportunities such as: sending details of useful industry insights and events, or connecting them with people who can help build their skills.

6. Practise real listening

Most people will start giving advice before a person has given their full story. This generally comes from a place of wanting to help. However, if you dig deeper to get a better understanding of a situation, you will likely increase the value of your counsel. Try asking more questions before jumping to advice-giving, so you have a clear picture of the situation. It’s easy to default to recalling similar scenarios you’ve experienced, but gather as much information as possible before you do this, so you give the best advice possible.

If your mentee says something you really don’t agree with, don’t instantly discount their thoughts. Instead, try to get to the bottom of why they feel a certain way, then help them to see it from another angle. They may bring a useful perspective you hadn’t thought about yet and vice versa.

7. Pay attention to their working style

Understanding your mentees working style will help you to give advice in a way that’s best suited to their personality. For example, are they a questioner? Some people need to ask a lot of questions before they can accept an answer or a new way of thinking. This need for information gathering can often be misconstrued as them being difficult, but a good mentor will recognise this and shift their mentor approach to work with this trait, providing as much information as the mentee requires.

8. Offer constructive feedback

No one likes to be criticised, so when it comes to giving your mentee adverse feedback, approach this from a solution based angle. Explain that you know they’re better than their negative actions (such as turning up late too often) and ask to understand what can be done to avoid that situation from happening again. This sort of approach is more likely to inspire change than a simple telling off.

If the feedback is more serious and could lead to a disciplinary, then explain clearly what could happen if they don’t make a change, whilst maintaining that you want them to succeed. Help them to formulate a plan to improve the situation.

9. Celebrate their successes

A simple but effective way to bolster motivation is giving thanks where thanks is due. When your mentee achieves their goals or any other work successes, then make sure you give well-deserved praise.

Finally, if your mentorship comes to an end, ensure you get honest feedback on how well you’ve mentored. You should ideally be asking for this throughout your mentoring to ensure you’re working most effectively, but in case there’s anything that’s not been mentioned then don’t be afraid to ask – this will only help you further with your own career.

Good mentoring and leadership go hand in hand – read our article on key leadership qualities.