January is National Mentoring Month, and the Express Blog has launched a new series called The Value of Mentorship for leaders and job seekers. This is part three of the 12-part series, so check back for new weekly installments!
Becoming a mentor has the potential to be an incredibly enriching and worthwhile experience for you and your new mentee, and you surely want to make the most of it. When you’re ready to start your journey as a mentor, use these six tips to get off on the right foot as you use the knowledge and experience you’ve worked so hard for to raise up your mentee.
- Get to know each other—professionally and personally.
Building mutual trust is a key characteristic of mentoring. Naturally, the first step in any new relationship is getting to know one another and working to understand each other’s values, priorities, strengths, weaknesses, and goals. It’s easier to connect with someone you’re familiar with, and understanding each other is critical to building trust. Invest in getting to know your mentee so you can offer support, foster their growth, and find ways to make the relationship effective.
Be an open book yourself—you’re a mentor for a reason. Allowing your mentee to get to know you and sharing your experiences can help build their trust in you. They look up to you and may even be inspired by you.
- Set specific goals early.
What does your mentee need out of this relationship? Talk with them to answer this question early on to determine next steps and detailed goals. Great goals for your mentee can include professional development, improving soft skills that you’ve mastered, networking, or planning their career path. When these goals or milestones are achieved, be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishment and the work they’ve put in.
- Communicate regularly.
There’s no need to clear your schedule, but do plan to spend time with the person you’re mentoring. Whether weekly, biweekly, or monthly, schedule time to chat over coffee, brainstorm before work, or get lunch to discuss goals and updates. Touch base before meeting to discuss an agenda or plan to spend the time teaching your mentee a skill, offering feedback, or discussing their projects and opportunities.
- Ask for feedback often.
As you continue meeting with your mentee regularly, keep asking for their feedback on how things are going, if they have questions, if there are new things they want to learn, or if any blind spots have come to light. The mentorship relationship should always be evolving. Conversation and communication should happen honestly and consistently.
- Keep your own mentor in the loop.
Everyone we encounter has a different experience. Sharing updates on your mentee’s progress and how the relationship is going with your own mentor is a great way to keep the relationship from becoming stagnant and continuing to challenge yourself to grow. Your mentor can help you brainstorm ideas to help your mentee meet their goals and can even help identify your weak points and how you could be a more effective mentor.
- Don’t take the relationship for granted.
There are bound to be highs and lows when taking your first shot at mentoring. If you fall short, stay humble, own up to it, and recommit to being there for your mentee. Remind yourself what it’s all about: encouraging someone with a shared interest and offering support that maybe you wish you had along the way to help them achieve their goals.
If you’ve had a successful mentorship relationship, you may have advice to pass on to newer mentors. Leave a comment and share this post with someone who’s starting their mentorship journey!
Check out previous posts from the Express Blog’s Value of Mentorship Series: