7 qualities of a good mentor
What makes a good mentor? Here are seven qualities to have to help along the career of the person under your wing.
A mentor is an important ally in one’s professional and personal development. Mentors guide their charges in the right direction. Over time, they have accumulated valuable experience that they can share with their mentorees, giving them advice, tools and the benefit of their skills.
Despite all your hard-earned experience, it won’t be helpful if you can’t share your knowledge properly.
Forget the jargon, the acronyms and the buzzwords! If you want your mentoree to learn, use plain language.
Sometimes this exercise in clarity requires that you break down your thoughts to explain them better, which is where the talent of a true teacher lies.
It’s enthusiasm and passion that sets the excellent mentor apart.
Always buoyed by the same sustained fervour for their work, a skilled mentor doesn’t let setbacks slow him down. On the contrary, he seeks out solutions that will help get things back on track.
A positive attitude is what allows the mentor to advise his charge, who will feel genuine interest.
3. Honest but diplomatic
You must be honest with your mentoree. You’re not doing them any favours by sugar-coating your message for fear of weakening their resolve.
Keep in mind that your role as a mentor does not mean telling your mentoree what he wants to hear, but rather to help advance their career.
Take the bull by the horns and respectfully point out what needs improvement.
4. Love of learning
As a mentor, you must set the example and avoid beating around the bush.
You must demonstrate that a career has every chance of blossoming when there is change, experimentation, learning and new methods.
While this learning requires a good deal of your time and energy, it is how you will maintain your reputation as an expert in your field.
You must enjoy sharing and passing on the knowledge you have accumulated over time without it being just about your ego.
5. A good ear
Mentors are good listeners. To help guide a person towards their goals, you have to be paying attention.
During your meetings, your attention should be focused on the person so that you can understand, interpret and evaluate what he’s telling you.
When you ask questions, empathy and absence of judgement must be evident in what you say and in your body language.
Adapt to the person; for instance, some people need a moment before answering a question.
Finally, don’t hesitate to rephrase to confirm your perceptions. This way you reduce the risk of misunderstandings and confusion. Give the mentoree the opportunity to explain themselves and adjust if necessary.
6. Thinking outside the box
Learning while you’re in your comfort zone is harder. Why? Because human beings are creatures of habit.
To grow you have to be willing to try new things, do things differently, which will give rise to hidden talents. Fear creates a vicious circle that must be broken.
A good mentor is able to identify the mentoree’s comfort zone and get them out of it to learn, develop new skills and experiment.
But before that the skilled mentor will take the time to explain and lay the groundwork.
7. Be prepared
A mentor knows that taking someone under their wing takes time and isn’t a task to be taken lightly.
Defining a mentorship plan is essential to setting out learning objectives, expectations and responsibilities to avoid any ambiguity.
Do your homework to find out what resources can help the mentoree realize his learning objectives.