Mentoring is a good way to help a person grow personally or professionally. It helps a mentor share perspectives, experiences, skills, expertise, and values with a mentee. A mentor typically ignites a desire to grow or awakes a sleepy ability within a mentee. Whether done formally, within an organisation or informally, at a personal level, mentoring provides support, valuable feedback and the drive needed to unlock the potential of a mentee.
That said, it needs to be done properly so that both the mentor and the mentee can gain from the relationship. As a mentor, you need to know what you want to impart to the mentee and what style the mentee prefers so that you are able to successfully provide the right guidance in the right way. Remember, a successful mentorship relationship will give you personal satisfaction, as it helps you shape future generations.
How to be an Effective Mentor
Teach and Model
Teaching is a way of passing on knowledge and sharing experiences, which the mentee can benefit from. Teaching is a process that can be used in a formal and informal setting and helps you shape the development of a mentee through past experiences and expertise.
While at it, remember that the mentee picks up values, beliefs, ethics, attitudes, methods, and styles by simply observing your actions. This means that you can mentor by modelling, as the mentee will most likely model their behaviour around your own. The mentee will often follow your path, adapt your approaches, and generally follow your actions. Therefore, your behaviour ought to be that which can be emulated beneficially.
Sponsor your Mentee
A big role played by mentors involves opening doors for mentees. Mentors, especially within an organisation or industry, often have the right networks and influence to help mentees grow. If and when a suitable opportunity arises, you can open the door for a mentee to walk in and grow themselves.
Inspire and Motivate them
Unlike a coach who simply imparts knowledge in the learner, a mentor encourages and supports a mentee. Oftentimes, this is because the mentor knows the mentee well enough and knows what works for them and what doesn’t. As a mentor, it is your duty to help the mentee merge their personal goals with that of the organization so that they can grow.
Offer Guidance and Counselling
A mentor also doubles up as a confidant and a personal consultant of different matters. As a result, you are most likely to be privy to different issues affecting your mentee. As your relationship grows over time, you can guide and counsel your mentee, based on personal experiences and knowledge.
From these points, it is clear that an effective mentor-mentee relationship is grown and nurtured over time. As a mentor, play an active role in managing the relationship, which will develop mutual trust, and this helps in strengthening the relationship.
While there is no standard way of mentoring, there are several ways in which mentorship takes place. It is also possible to oscillate between different styles, based on the circumstances at play. Here are some commonly used mentorship styles.
1. Mentoring by Connecting
Think of a godfather. A person with the key to any door that a mentee may need to walk through. As a connector, your role is to ensure that the mentee has the right skills and then introduce them to the right networks and help them meet the right people on their journey to growth. You hold the mentee’s hand and help them learn how to create networks and maximise these relationships.
Your role is especially valuable when the mentee is just getting started and does not have the industry connections to grow. This kind of mentoring can also be situational, where you help the mentee overcome particular hurdles and challenges. Your role as a mentor is to simply help the mentee at a specific time.
2. Mentoring by Challenging
As a challenger, your role is to push the mentee to be what they can possibly be. You know the mentee’s capabilities and you constantly ensure that the mentee remains focused on the goal and that they are achieving key goals. You focus on tiny details and ensure that they are in place. You are firm but very supportive and you can be friendly or tough, depending on the situation.
This kind of mentoring works best in formal situations, where you help the mentee set specific goals and targets and keep checking with them to ensure that the progress is on track.
3. Mentoring by Educating
In this case, your role as a mentor is to teach a mentee what you have learned either through experience or in training. It is often helpful when the mentee is interested in learning things that you have superior knowledge in. For example, if you are an entrepreneur and a mentee is trying to start their own business, you can teach them how to manoeuvre so that they can stand on their own feet.
As a mentor, you should identify the mentee’s strengths and weaknesses and know how to work with them for a successful relationship. Identify the knowledge gaps as well and teach the mentee the ropes.
4. Mentoring by Cheerleading
Cheerleading is all about injecting positive energy. It is about identifying the positives in a mentee and reinforcing positive behaviour. Even is a mentee makes a mistake, it is the role of the mentor to turn it into a positive idea so that it becomes a learning experience. This is often the most preferred style as it helps the mentee have someone to lean on even on the worst days.
Just like in a football match, the mentor who leads by cheering often injects some kind of energy into the player, in this case, the mentee, and this helps the mentee get through the bad days and learn how to maximise on the good days.
5. Mentoring by Ideating
As an ideator, your role is to help the mentee brainstorm new ideas. Sometimes, a mentee needs a sounding board for new ideas and this is how you as a mentor help the mentee develop their ideas. As a mentor, you help the mentee plan, think, and see the bigger picture. It is your role as a mentor to help the mentee grow their ideas in sound and executable strategies.
There are different mentoring styles based on the relationship and the set-up between the mentor and mentee. As a mentor, you act as a guide for the mentee and help them achieve whatever they are capable of achieving.
Find out the differences between mentoring and coaching here.