Will You Be My Mentor?
At some point in your career, a bright-eyed intern or gregarious up-and-comer will approach you and ask you that fateful question, “Would you consider being a mentor for me?”
While you might be flattered, you may also be thinking, “I have no idea how to be a mentor!”
Before you brush off the request or think you’re in over your head, read through the list of mentor qualities originally published by Toastmasters International (below):
- Available – Be available by phone, email, in person, to help build the relationship and answer beginning questions they might have.
- Patient – People learn at different speeds, and some need more guidance than others.
- Sensitive – Tact and diplomacy are vital. Many people are afraid to face their fears and/or work on weaknesses.
- Respectful – Each person is unique – respect your mentee’s wishes and don’t push too hard.
- Flexible – Life happens; always remember that not everything goes according to plan and you may have to allow for last minute changes or shifts in goals.
- Supportive – Demonstrate pride for what your mentee has accomplished. Be an advocate for their development.
- Knowledgeable – Know what you can offer a mentee – what is your area of expertise? What knowledge/experience will benefit your mentee?
- Confident – A mentor should come across as self-assured, friendly, and eager to help.
- Good Listener – By being a good listener, you enable the mentee to articulate any problem and sort things out.
- Concerned – A good mentor must genuinely care about people and want to help them become their best.
Serving as a mentor to another person is a matter of listening, offering wisdom and sharing your experience as it relates to their goals. And you don’t have to mentor this person from now until the end of time. If you’re worried about the time commitment, set some boundaries for your mentor relationship.
Expectations and Boundaries
Determine the length of time you will meet and the frequency of your meetings. If you choose to discuss matters over the phone or through email, establish parameters for those methods of communication as well.
Manage your expectations along with the expectations your mentee has for you. The ten qualities above, combined with expectations and boundaries you can both agree on, lay the foundation for a positive mentoring experience.