Throughout the course of your life, you have probably had many mentors, from an older brother who helped you with long division in elementary school to a supervisor at your first job who took you under her wing and showed you the ropes. A good mentor is invaluable to your personal and professional growth, and as a leader in your organization, you have the opportunity to “pay it forward” with others.
By mentoring younger employees and taking an interest in their professional development, you will not only increase their abilities at work, you will also make an investment in employee engagement and retention.
Tips for Successful Mentoring
Know what you have to offer.
Many people haven’t pictured themselves in a mentorship role because they are overly humble about what they have to teach others. If you find yourself in this position, spend time thinking about all the skills and knowledge you have acquired over the years in your career and write out a list. Some you may even take for granted because they have become second nature to you, but they would be extremely helpful to a younger employee. For example:
- Public speaking and business writing
- Project management
- Budget analysis
- Client relations
- IT troubleshooting
Make time for mentoring.
Time is the most valuable resource you have as a mentor. It’s easy to get caught up in your own schedule and put off mentorship for another day, but remember that what you put into the relationship is what you will get out of it. If you want to be an effective teacher and mentor, you need to make it a priority. Schedule short blocks of time with your mentee throughout the week, and get to know him on a personal level.
Focus on the bigger picture.
Take a genuine interest in the employee you are mentoring. What does she already know and what does she want to learn more about? What are her interests and passions? What are her career goals? What can she bring to the team in the future and what skills and resources does she need to succeed? Ask questions, listen and give honest responses. Look for ways you can support her goals, while aligning them with the organization’s goals.
Take advantage of teachable moments.
When your employee encounters challenges, resist the temptation to jump in immediately with instructions or solutions. Make it a teaching opportunity and allow him to explore problem solving techniques of his own. Mentorship often means standing back and empowering someone to use his leadership skills.
Have you ever been a mentor at work? What advice do you have for other mentors?
Learn more about EDSI’s leadership courses and resources.