What it takes to be a mentor in your business
Mentoring is an incredibly powerful business development tool that can improve planning, performance and productivity; it can also help you to identify new opportunities, ideas and innovative solutions too.
The most important aspect of mentoring though is that anyone can be a mentor or a mentee – the whole premise is based on the sharing of knowledge and experience, and there is always something new to learn or a new way of thinking about a challenge. But even though new learning opportunities always exist, it takes skill and very specific qualities to be a functional and effective mentor.
Here are seven important qualities a mentor must have:
- Being able to share what you know
As a mentor, you are an expert in your field or area of responsibility. But there’s a big difference in knowing something and being able to teach it to someone else. It’s important to be clear when you communicate your lessons, strategies or guidance. It’s the only way your mentee can understand and learn from you.
- Being prepared
When you commit to being a mentor, you owe your mentee – and the process – the respect he or she deserves. This means that you must trust your mentee’s abilities and the process by preparing for each mentoring session. Mentorship isn’t a simple Q&A session, it must be a structured, thought-out discussion on topics or subjects your mentee wants to talk about.
- Being available and approachable
It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Your mentee must feel comfortable approaching you for advice or consultation, keeping in mind your boundaries and schedule. Establish a set day and time for regular sessions or meetings – this will allow you to sufficiently prepare and allow you to devote your attention to the mentor role. Keep these commitments, be present and listen with an open mind.
- Being honest
When someone wants to learn from you and your experiences, be candid and straightforward with them. Dispense with formalities and don’t beat around the bush in offering your constructive feedback. Say what you think your mentee needs to hear from you, not what you think he or she might want to hear. Be willing to discuss your feedback but it is important to offer honest guidance so that your mentee can make their own decisions.
- Being inquisitive
Just because you’re teaching doesn’t mean you should stop learning too. As a mentor, you should stay on top of what’s going on in your industry or business. Continual learning is essential if you plan to continue to be an effective mentor. And if your mentee asks you something you don’t know the answer to, follow up to find the answer.
- Being objective
It’s important to be aware that a mentorship is not a friendship. It’s a professional engagement, and while you want your mentee to succeed, the relationship does not have to become personal or private. Also, ensure that there’s no hidden agenda or ulterior motives involved in this relationship.
- Being genuine
As a mentor, you must be selfless about sharing what you know. The concept of being a mentor depends on honest knowledge sharing and guidance, and that should steer all your actions as a mentor.
Help your business plan and perform better by encouraging and fostering a mentorship mindset in your business. Each employee possesses valuable intellectual property, experiences, insights and learnings that your business can’t afford to miss out on.