Best Practices for a Mentor
Don't give advice in first or second meeting
Use the first couple meetings to get to know your mentee and establish trust. Reserve discussing your own experiences or giving advice until after your mentee has had a chance to thoroughly explain his or her issue, question, or concern.
Active listening not only establishes rapport but creates a positive, accepting environment that permits open communication.
Trust is built over time. You will increase trust by keeping your conversations and other communications with your mentee confidential, honoring your scheduled meetings and calls, consistently showing interest and support, and by being honest.
Determine Goals and Building Capacity
As a role model, you should have your own career and personal goals and share these, when appropriate, with your mentee. It is also likely that he or she will ask you how you set and achieved your own goals. In addition, you can help them identify and achieve their career and personal goals. You will develop your mentee’s capacity for learning and achieving his or her goals by doing the following:
Assisting him or her with finding resources such as people, books, articles, tools, and web-based information
Imparting knowledge and skills by explaining, giving useful examples, demonstrating processes, and asking thought-provoking questions
Helping him or her gain broader perspectives on his or her responsibilities and organization
Discussing actions you’ve taken in your career and explaining your rationale
Giving encouragement is one of the mentoring skills most valued by mentees. There are many ways to encourage. Try some of these:
Comment favorably on his or her accomplishments
Communicate your belief in his or her capacity to grow personally and professionally and reach his or her goals
Respond to his or her frustrations and challenges with words of support, understanding, encouragement, and praise. (Just knowing that someone else has been there can be tremendously helpful.)
Inspire your mentee to excel, try some of these:
Share your personal vision or those of other leaders
Describe experiences, mistakes, and successes you or others have encountered on the road to becoming a successful business owner
Talk with him or her about people and events that have inspired and motivated you
Introduce him or her to your colleagues who can be additional useful contacts or inspiring models
Reflecting on your mentoring practice, noting use of the key mentoring skills, observing progress made in the relationship, and requesting feedback from your mentee are excellent ways to assess whether you are employing these skills.