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How To Be A Mentor In The Workplace (The Ultimate Guide)

This essential guide teaches the Do’s and Don’t when it comes to mentoring at work.
by Rob Gillham | Nov 3 2022

The role of a mentor involves imparting wisdom, industry insights, and tangible skills to students and trainees. Having a positive mentorship can improve business performance and provide opportunities for mentees. Developing your own leadership skills and serving as a role model to those under your tutelage can help you become a great mentor.

In this article, you will learn how to be a mentor in the workplace, along with essential tips to boost your key mentoring skills. 

Are you ready to learn how to be a mentor in the workplace? Let’s get started. 

How Does Mentoring Work?

An individual mentors a less experienced colleague by sharing their professional expertise and providing support. Mentors serve as teachers, counselors, and advocates for their protégés. As a result of mentoring, a mutually beneficial professional relationship develops over time. Mentorship doesn’t aim to fix weak performance, but rather to shape a promising career. By mentoring the next generation of leaders and innovators, you are giving back to the company and the industry.

What Makes a Good Mentor?

Being a good mentor begins with understanding what a mentor is. The purpose of a mentor is to provide support and on-the-job learning to apprentices, students and trainees using their expertise and industry insight. An individual who works under a mentor is a mentee. Mentorship has no set duration since it depends on the relationship between mentor and mentee and the intended outcome. There are mentorships that last a day, and there are mentorships that last years. Mentoring is a personal but professional relationship between mentor and mentee.

Each mentorship is unique, and what a mentee learns is directly influenced by the quality of the mentorship. A mentor can provide practical experience, life lessons, and shared knowledge to mentees, encourage them with positive reinforcement techniques, and act as a teacher and offer guidance. Mentors may also create goals and milestones to help mentees grow, prepare mentees for promotions, job interviews, and applications, develop a mentee’s skills through practice tests, and help them find new opportunities.

How To Be A Mentor In The Workplace

Set a good example for others

It’s no surprise that, over time, mentees look up to their mentors for guidance and may even view them as role models. Be a good role model for them as a mentor. Work with enthusiasm. Your mentee is likely to follow your example when things are difficult when you show professionalism and positivity. Providing a mentee with an example of how to behave at work provides them with a template for their own behavior.

Success should be praised

Especially for mentees who are just starting out and learning a lot on the job, mentorships can be exhausting. Therefore, celebrating mentees’ successes and praising them when they succeed is important. This fosters a sense of inclusiveness in the workplace by encouraging mentees to share their successes with mentors and other colleagues. Having a mentee who does well is a reflection of a mentor doing their job well, so they can celebrate as well.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

As a mentor, it can be easy to fall into the trap of always wanting to be right. Embracing your own mistakes is an excellent way to mentor, as it shows mentees that mistakes are inevitable at work. Using a mentor’s mistake correctly can be an excellent learning opportunity for a mentee.

Communication should be promoted and encouraged

Creating a safe environment where mentees can learn, make mistakes, and grow is an essential part of being a good mentor. Having good communication is key to this, as you are able to instruct effectively and listen intently to your mentee. Many mentee issues can be resolved by simply listening to them. A good communication system can encourage brainstorming opportunities that can solve any problem.

Respect one another and grow together

Mentors and mentees can strengthen their trust and confidence by understanding one another in a mentorship. When mentors and mentees respect one another, communication is more open, and work is more transparent. As a result of mutual respect, mentors are much more likely to share their expertise, insights, and skills with mentees they trust and respect.

Be honest

Mentors should be able to deliver constructive criticism and positive feedback effectively. It may feel like you’re criticizing their work, but if your feedback is helpful to them, then it’s a good critique. It is possible to encourage mentees to improve their shortcomings through constructive criticism.

Professionalism is key

It is easy to let professionalism slip when working as a mentor with enough time spent together. Professionalism and appropriateness are recommended at the workplace. You can reinforce a professional working relationship by setting clear boundaries where you only communicate at work.

Be supportive, not judgmental

Mentorship is about understanding that mentees are on their own career path. Whenever you discuss their future, remain objective and supportive of their career decisions. By remaining impartial and supportive, you allow your mentee to develop their own skills and strengthen the mentor/mentee relationship.

Think independently and encourage initiative

You can be a great mentor by giving your mentee the opportunity to make their own decisions. You are responsible for guiding and advising mentees so that they can solve problems and make decisions on their own. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. When done in a safe environment, trial and error is a great way to learn. Using their own initiative will give a mentee more confidence in their ability if they get something right.

Take a moment to consider the mentorship’s structure

Mentorships are unique, so you won’t be able to use the same framework for all mentees. Think about a few factors that determine what your mentorship will look like. You should discuss how much face-to-face time you intend to spend together, how frequently you intend to work together, and what tasks, objectives, and goals you intend to accomplish together. Consider how you will grade the mentorship and if you want to use milestones and reviews or a more laid back approach.

With all of these considerations, it’s worthwhile to discuss them with the mentee beforehand. You should at least have a plan for how the mentorship will proceed, but it can also be valuable to be flexible and accommodating. Consider the overall structure of the mentorship and what both you and your mentee will gain from it at every stage.

Get to know your mentee

It is a professional yet close relationship between mentor and mentee, so it is important to learn about one another. The mentor can identify a mentee’s strengths and weaknesses so that they can be properly trained and guided.

To do this, you should get to know your mentee on a personal and professional level. Find out what mentees’ long-term goals are, why they are in this industry, and what they struggle with at work. As you strengthen this relationship, it becomes stronger and more beneficial for both of you.

Participate in a mentoring program

Mentorship programs and workshops are provided by many companies that use mentorships. Participating in one of these is a great idea since it gives you an idea of what a mentor does during a mentorship. Your program may even pair you up with a mentee right away for practical experience.

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