Strategies for being a great mentor

Strategies For Being A Great Mentor (Part 1)

Candidates today are looking for learning and development opportunities within a company they join. Therefore, it is increasingly important to ensure good mentorship strategies are incorporated into the onboarding process in your organization. Allowing seniors to pass down their knowledge is crucial in helping the young generation step forward into future roles.

But how do you be a good mentor?

Initial steps: building rapport and setting goals

As you first move into your mentor role you initially need to find out what your mentee’s main ambitions and challenges are. What does success look like to them? Ask them to be specific – they may give a particular job title as their main aim, but dig deeper to find out their reasoning behind wanting this. What particular aspects do they want to bring to the business? Maybe it’s attracting new clients, improving project management or introducing new technology to the company. What areas of their working life do they want to improve on and what challenges do they currently face?

1. Identify sub-goals

Once you have these answers, break these down further into smaller, more manageable goals to help retain motivation. For instance, if they want to have enough influence in the business to introduce a new idea, they may need to work on their internal PR to gain the respect needed. So a sub-goal could be to give a talk to the office on an important topic or to receive positive feedback from one senior member of the team.

As a mentor, you need to help them set not only achievable goals, but also help them keep their goals positive focused. This means avoiding goals like ‘stop taking so much work home’ and re-phrasing to something positive like ‘spend more time with my family’. Negative goals are harder to focus on therefore less likely to achieve.

2. Make a (realistic) plan

The next obvious step is to make a plan. Prioritise which goals will have the biggest impact on their career and which are of most importance to them, then decide together which ones will be tackled in the first month.

Take the quality over quantity approach here – setting too many goals can be overwhelming, resulting in nothing being accomplished as they try to tackle too much at once. Allow them to master new talents gradually before moving onto the next goal. Setting clear deadlines for these goals will also encourage accountability.

Allowing flexibility in your planning is also important for success – this goes for both your business strategy and personal goal setting. Businesses and roles can change for many reasons – so it’s important to be responsive to changing business needs rather than remaining rigid. This is why monthly goal-setting works well – it allows mentees to be responsive to any variations in their work schedule or the company.

3. Build rapport early

Aside from helping with goal setting, building a rapport early on is equally as important for success. Without finding common ground or creating a basic relationship it can be difficult to make progress with your mentee, as their motivation will be lacking and you will struggle to get their true honest feelings.

Avoid treating your progress meetings as just a checklist of points to get through. Instead, make sure you’re also taking a genuine interest in them as a person and their life outside of work.

Strategies to keep successful momentum going

Once you lay the foundation of your mentoring relationship, you can focus on facilitating learning and growth by creating a supportive environment – so your mentee can flourish in their new role. Come back soon for Part 2! 

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