No matter where you are in your career, you can become a mentor to help improve another professional’s performance and guide them to greater professional accomplishments.
In honor of National Mentoring Month, I’ve included a few key tips to help you become an excellent mentor to someone who may need it:
1. Proactively scout out opportunities to serve. It may seem counterintuitive, but often people who need to be mentored the most won’t ask for it. And this is true at both ends of the career spectrum. New hires often feel too intimidated to seek the guidance of a more seasoned colleague and more seasoned professionals often feel too proud to seek help at this stage. The thing is—both professionals could probably really use the help. So, keep your eyes peeled. Become a good listener. Notice where folks could benefit from your experience and expertise, as well as where such collaborations would be a good fit (because not all are). Finally, ask if the person is open to a mentoring relationship; don’t assume.
2. Be constructive. Just because you’ve established a mentoring relationship, it doesn’t give you a license to micromanage, criticize, or control. That’s not what it’s about. Take this opportunity to learn more about what your mentee needs and where you could be of value. Learn about areas where they excel, as well as where they might be falling down. In the areas where they are challenged the most, offer guidance in a proactive and constructive manner. Allow sufficient time for those suggestions to be implemented before checking in. Finally, offer additional suggestions and resources, which can inspire them to be more independent and create other avenues of influence.
3. Be accessible. It’s one thing to volunteer yourself as a mentor, another thing all together to actually do the work. So, be accessible. Don’t offer time or resources that you cannot deliver. If you know that your time is limited, only offer what you can reasonably provide. Once you make a commitment, make sure to follow through unless there is a real emergency. No one likes a flake. Ultimately, honesty, consistency, and dependability will go a long way with your mentee. Remember that the mentoring relationship is merely a smaller component of a larger one.
4. Follow-up. Even though mentoring suggests that you may only offer support for a limited time, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t follow up even after the mentoring relationship has ended. Check in to see how the person is doing. Ask whether you can do anything to help them where they are now. At the very least, they’d certainly appreciate the follow-up and sincere concern over how they are doing. And, who knows, they may have wins to tout or want to share other things that are going on in their lives. You never know how you may have impacted someone’s life, so don’t take that possibility for granted.
Are you ready to be of service to someone who may need you this year? I sure hope so. Your call to action: Become an excellent mentor. Inspire someone to step outside their comfort zone and achieve greater success.
To your success!
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, www.wordsmithrapport.com.