Why people in the business world need a mentor?

When trying to start or impulse a business, many people start asking themselves questions like “how can I be successful?” or “is this the right way to do things?”. When this happens the recommendation is always the same: find yourself a mentor.

Finding a mentor is as important as having a great business plan. This happens because being able to nurture your business with the experience and advice of someone who has proven to know that it’s doing, is key to success.

No matter how good you did in school, how many people you know or how much potential you have if you don’t know how to use the tools at hand, your odds of succeeding decrease considerably. This (among other reasons) is why it is so important for individuals in the business world to find a good mentor.

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In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will share some reasons why it is crucial for people to find a mentor.

1 . It has been proven

The recommendation of finding a mentor in order to have better results in the business world is not a mere subjective opinion. According to Steven Berglas, from Forbes Magazine, studies show that those who have a mentor are proven to be more successful than those who never get one.

2 . It has no cost

What? Having a mentor is free? The answer to this is “yes, it is”.

Many people may find this hard to believe. But, a mentor is different than a coach and it doesn’t charge a dime. It is not about an insufferable case of generosity, it is about gratification for both the mentor and the mentee.

Usually, those who become mentors are already successful in their business field. They don’t need to be paid for the service they provide. Mentors do their job with a sense of serenity and gratification, knowing that they are contributing to the creation of a better world.

Besides all this, mentors tend to create a personal bond with their mentees. For this reason, the importance they give to their job, the love they have for their mentees and the knowledge they have to pass isn’t for sale.

3 . Relationships are personal

This is another item that many people may find hard to believe. This happens because most successful businessmen are well-known for being ruthless, and not giving a dime for others.

However, this is not entirely the truth. Actually, it is not even true for the majority of individuals in the business world, especially when it comes to mentorship.

Relationships between mentors and mentees are often personal. Mentors choose their mentees or vice-versa based on affinities or common interests. Sometimes, these relationships star without even knowing they are taking place.

A good way to illustrate this is the knowledgeable professor you met in business school and helped you boost your entrepreneurship. Or that experienced boss who looked after you when you were first starting to create your own company. All these people become part of their mentees’ lives and influence them in a personal and professional way.

4 . Inspiration is important

A mentor is an example to follow, and inspirational figure. They represent what any businessman wants to achieve. This is one of the reasons why finding a mentor is vital for a business to succeed.

Picture yourself as an entrepreneur who is struggling with many things. You still don’t know if you will make it to the next month and you wonder if what is happening to you has ever happened to anybody else. Then you look at your mentor and listen to its story. Suddenly, you find yourself in front of an individual who had to deal with countless ups and downs and succeeded in the end.

Mentors motivate entrepreneurs to keep moving forward. They become the inspiration we all need to succeed. They help us solve problems in a creative and useful way. They are also individuals that we respect, therefore, we are willing to follow their advice all the time.

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5 . Firsthand information and experience

It is not very likely for a person to be able to learn from the experiences told in books about how its business should be managed. Mentors are key to learn from the practice and not just the theory. They help you go through new situations and motivate you to learn about numerous subjects all at once.

A mentor is the voice of experience and knowledge. It is the best source any individual in the business world has to investigate about what may happen to its business or how to react to a difficult situation.

A mentor is not going to take a parental position. But, it will work as the perfect guide for the perfect situation. It will provide the necessary advice and recommendations to any situation that needs to be taken care of. Prove to this is that, all good mentors where once mentees.

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Mentoring: A key tool for talent retention

Any organization that seeks to maintain its competitiveness must seriously consider the issue of talent development and management, especially as regards a clear problem of our time: Employees, especially those of the new generations, do not usually stay in the companies they work for a long time. This involves a series of expenses in time and in money (especially when it comes to training processes,) and it really represents a problem for a large number of organizations around the world. One of the measures that may be implemented to deal with this problem is mentoring. I will first analyze the problem of human talent retention, and then I will get deeper into what mentoring can do to provide intelligent solutions.

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The flight of talent has its origin in the mishandling of human resources which has been made from the management of organizations. The lack of understanding leads to the abandonment of thousands of jobs a year. The reasons for the flight of talent are sometimes ignored by the managers themselves who prefer using imperative leadership methodologies, more typical of the old times, in order to imitate the successes of their predecessors.

Still, it is necessary to understand that the world has evolved since then, and the old models are now historical records for the new generations, which point to circular forms of management, based on internal communication and the promotion of labor well-being. Ignoring the adaptation to the new models of human capital management may lead to a serious problem, which not only impacts the future of the company but, on a large scale, would mean a threat to the global economy itself.

The old forms of leadership are outdated and must give way to the new generations based on communication and mutual understanding between leader and worker. Millennials are the generation that opens the door to change. This generation is providing a continuous evolution to improve this and to adapt to the new forms of management for the coming generation, which is eminently digital. At present, the motivation to work, the fact of achieving a good working weather and the family conciliation are the key aspects to get the workers involved in the corporate culture. The philosophy of work of the present century has its roots in the happiness of employees: A happy worker is a productive worker.

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Now, mentoring is a key tool to retain the best-qualified staff of companies. However, even though it has several benefits, it is extremely important that you learn how to use it and implement it correctly. This strategy is related to progression, growth and professional challenges. It consists of a process through which a more experienced person, the mentor, teaches, assists, offers possible paths and contributes to the personal and professional growth of the mentee by investing time, energy, and knowledge. Mentoring, besides being a catalyst for the continuous learning process in the company, shortens the learning curve and is useful for structuring the training that takes place in the workplace. However, it is necessary to know the process well, as the benefits that can be obtained, the objectives that are pursued, and the frequent barriers for an adequate mentoring design.

Read also: Deconstructing the benefits of mentoring: Is it worth it?, by Suzzanne Uhland

Mentoring should be incorporated as part of the development strategy of people within a company and be considered as part of the values of the organization. The same workers can volunteer to mentor the new members of the company, and, during the execution of this plan, the company will be concerned with the professional development of all of them, since the mentors need to study a bit more to teach.

A mentoring program is divided into stages. First, the mentor and mentee’s expectations regarding the learning process are developed, the objectives to be attained are established, and the sessions are planned. Then, the mentor should take the reins of this process and be proactive, by learning everything he/she can from to achieve the goals. To optimize this program, the company must apply it as a tool to retain and capture talent, with the support of the management of the organization, and, in this regard, it is vital to count on enough resources of time and money.

A successful implementation of a mentoring program benefits the company since the staff feels more positive, participatory, and integrated. It usually increases its productivity, performance, and motivation, and promotes an organizational climate. Mentoring builds technical and managerial skills, optimizes the selection and development of new talent, which is recruited with high potential standards and levels of competence, among others. If you implement this mentoring plan, your employees will thank you for the concern you have for them and their loyalty to your company will rise.

The implementation of mentoring is a great effort for the organization; for each mentor and mentee. That is why the results are really stimulating, taking into account the personal and professional growth which is noticed from the beginning.

Recommended: Why retention will be the biggest Talent Challenge of 2017

Deconstructing the benefits of mentoring: Is it worth it?

More and more companies incorporate mentoring programs to educate their employees, and this leads us to the question: What is a mentoring program for? What are the keys to success in this activity? What benefits do the mentees get with this process? Why is a mentor willing to transmit his or her knowledge and time free of charge to another person?

All these questions have answers, but it is important to begin by dealing with the question about the essence of mentoring. The fact is that this is a practice whereby one person educates another through the exchange of his or her own resources, knowledge, values, skills, points of view, attitudes, and competences, within an organization. To this extent, it is not possible to consider mentoring the mere exercises of evaluation or direction that are carried out in a company. Mentoring, rather than qualifying someone’s skills, involves teaching, re-phrasing concepts, and helping mentees to find paths that lead them to his or her goals. Mentoring is not, in a strict sense, a sponsorship (although there is a type of mentoring that points to it.)

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Read also: Mentoring techniques: Which suits you best?, by Suzzanne Uhland

Mentoring allows a mentee to develop skills and new knowledge, and help him or her to achieve concrete goals. To the mentor, this activity offers the opportunity to develop different perspectives, ask new questions, learn about other concerns and expand the personal and professional vision. After all, someone who teaches something learns double and faces the great challenge of defining and confirming what he or she knows and does not know.

The mentor’s job is a tremendous challenge. It aims to contribute to the learning process of the mentee, and this means, among many things, that, in addition to the conversations proper to any encounter, mentors can facilitate new contacts of whom mentees can learn, and thus can contribute to the acquisition of knowledge. A mentor teaches what no one teaches you in college. These tricks of everyday life, those long years translated into experience, can be transferred in some well-taught lessons and assimilated. This not only contributes to the proper functioning of a company, which may have worked in a certain way for a long time, and it may be desirable that this continues to be so, but is a very useful learning for any newbie who wants to perform as a professional and as a person.

As the mentoring relationship progresses, the mentor also serves as an advisor. To do this, it must respond to the mentee’s need to contrast his or her own ideas. The mentor also acts as a counselor, and for this purpose brings his or her views and opinions based on experience, as well as the transmission of new perspectives, which help the mentee to make better executive decisions.

The global nature of companies is a feature that is increasingly present throughout the market for goods and services. This, in turn, requires professionals to be more open and connoisseurs of new environments. For this reason, it is important to ask about the strategic reasons that companies should develop in terms of a mentoring project.

The most common reason is usually internal support or a valuable talent for the organization. This tool is also often used to facilitate succession plans, to boost the career of employees, to improve the retention of key personnel within the company, or to help the integration of workers in the company or new positions.

It is a known fact that managerial productivity increases to almost ninety percent when a mentoring project is implemented. This, compared to almost twenty-five percent productivity when we talk about traditional business training. It is also known that minds can improve up to eleven core competencies much more effectively than traditional methods. In fact, thirty-five percent of the most talented workers who have not received mentoring usually seek a new job in no more than two years. This means that the rotation of a company, which in some cases is irrelevant, in others is positive, and in others is counterproductive, depends to a large extent on the presence of mentoring processes within an organization.

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In consequence, it is necessary to increase high-level learning, and, at the same time, to re-create training times and costs. Programs and courses for managers are not common. The exchange of mentors and mentees provokes very profitable relationships for all the participants and does not imply great investments for the companies.

It is normal for many people to be skeptical on mentoring. After all, this is a novel and a reactionary way of traditional training in the business world. Although it is not a new issue (if we analyze the history of Ancient Greece, we could find mentoring processes, somehow,) in the conservative business world is not even thirty years old.

Actually, its benefits are very interesting and the reasons for not using it (which could imply lack of time or the small size of some companies) are very few in terms of the positive aspects of this practice.

Recommended: Four Key Benefits of Workplace Mentoring Initiatives

 

Mentoring techniques: Which suits you best?

Coaching and mentoring are widely used strategies by organizations to promote the development of the potential of their employees which have been implemented in our country for more than four decades. This type of human resources techniques is very useful to encourage the adaptation to the change of the employees both operationally and technologically.

Nowadays, some of the capabilities that most companies look for in their employees include implication, commitment, and adaptation to change. For this reason, it is important to make a series of improvements within organizations and go beyond the role of managers. These must acquire a different role, which is not only to direct, control, and order, but also to guide and teach their employees. They must know how to give the necessary tools so that their work team can carry out all the work for themselves, revitalizing the value of the work done and the objectives achieved.

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For this reason, the training departments of companies today should help the development of this type of skills by encouraging the constant learning of their employees. Companies seek to develop both interpersonal and professional competencies at the same time, but they usually tend to develop only interpersonal skills.

Mentoring techniques are one of the most effective tools for disseminating knowledge which are often produced internally, with an applied approach that ensures the transfer of knowledge and, at a lower cost than an extensive training plan.

Read also: How To Start A Great Mentoring Program At Work, by Suzzanne Uhland

One of the best-known techniques is sponsorship mentoring. In this category, the power and influence of the mentor are important to the relationship. In addition, supervising or being responsible for the development of the mentee is a task that the mentor performs according to his or her ways. The important thing to understand here is that this modality of mentoring is based on the fact that the mentor takes charge and is permanently aware of the development of the mentee.

Rather than the mere observation of a vertical relationship between boss and employee, what is important here is the transmission of knowledge and the verification that this knowledge is properly assimilated. In addition to the technical knowledge that can be conveyed, one of the most remarkable aspects of sponsorship mentoring is the transmission of the wisdom derived from years of experience: Precisely, what textbooks do not teach.

It should be noted that the transmission of knowledge here is unilateral. This means that only the mentor teaches the mentee, and this often happens with bosses who, for example, are about to retire and need to leave someone in the position they are going to leave behind. For this reason, the power and authority of the mentor are basic aspects of this teaching relationship. In fact, the mentor often acts on behalf of the mentee to make decisions, and for this reason, this technique is usually not free from conflicts in practice. Although it may be very useful, and, in fact, it has been for many years, each time it loses more strength as a trend.

On the other hand, development mentoring is a technique in which the main idea consists mainly of co-learning. This means that someone should help others to make better decisions and increase their wisdom, as a result of a deep self-awareness, but it is not a one-sided relationship, unlike sponsorship mentoring. This technique, much more trendy than the other, is focused on finding someone’s best skills and helping them to reach the maximum potential they can so that they (mentors and mentees) can be what they want to become. It is not a usual experience within traditional organizations where employees simply adapt to the company’s schemes, and can rarely deploy creativity and implement the knowledge learned in college.

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In broad terms, development mentoring points to a relationship without hierarchy. In this case, what is really relevant is the experience that can be shared by the mentor and the mentee. The key skill of the mentor in this learning relationship lies in being able to adapt to the nature of the aid provided to the mentee’s needs over time.

Both learn here by using this technique. This is quite positive since, in this way, the mentor also oxygenates his or her knowledge with what mentees bring from the universities. Above all, when it comes to technology, mentors always have things to learn. Therefore, in mentoring development, the power and authority of the mentor are not highly important. The mentor, rather than instructing the mentee, teaches him or her to think, to decide what he or she wants and to plan a way to reach it. This relationship, based on opportunities for mutual learning and friendship, tends to be more positive in practice, especially in a millennial society.

Adopting one technique or another depends mostly on the way the company has operated in the past and on the decisions of employees that may offer new ideas and can be listened.

Which suits you best?

Recommended: Modern Mentoring Is The Key To Retaining Millennials 

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5 words of advice on how to get the most out of your mentor

Suzzane Uhland has written quite a lot about mentorship and how to be a good mentor. The most important thing regarding this topic is to really determine the true importance and value of mentoring.

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Many people, after being accompanied by different mentors throughout their professional careers, end up developing certain pleasure about becoming a mentor themselves. Throughout this process, they spend their whole careers building their own advisory group: year after year, they create a solid group of advisors—those who have helped them take a step forward or overcome any difficulty. Oftentimes, mentors act as a mere conversational partner: bouncing and discussing ideas back and forth with someone who is more experienced in that particular field is actually way richer and more rewarding than sitting through an endless lecture. Many people actually assert that this has helped them see with more clarity what they may not have understood before.

Other times, however, leaders act as those people needed to tell others in need how to proceed or to provide them with enough encouragement so that they feel compelled to keep moving forward. In short, the benefits of having a mentor at any moment are clear: they help people to be their best selves.

Nonetheless, it is important to mention that even though mentors are seen like an authorized voice in a specific field, and even though they provide mentees with enough reasons to take risks, keep moving forward and strive for what they want, at the end of the day, mentees are the ones responsible for making their own choices. Mentors are not just there to tell mentees whether they need to follow a specific direction. No. Instead, they provide the guidance needed for mentees to make up their minds and subsequently make a decision about the path they want to follow.

So, although the aforementioned description may sound a bit general, it is also important to mention that there are different types of mentors. Moreover, there are different ways to approach them and use them. Here are several words of advice on how to get the most out of a mentor:

First

A good mentor takes mentees out of their comfort zone. Period. There will always be a sheer array of individuals ready to provide such degree of comfort; however, a good mentor is the one who actually encourages their mentees to try new experiences in hopes of discovering something new about them. Many people, especially entrepreneurs, recall seeking advice with mentors who practically forced to leave their comfort zone and they ended up excelling and thriving in a different, totally unknown field.

Second

A good mentor possesses an accurate understanding of the mentee’s strengths and weaknesses: they are capable of accurately grasping the intricacies of the individuals that approach them seeking help. Mentees should always strive to improve their weaknesses. That is obvious, of course. Nonetheless, in order to that, they need to seek a mentor who will complement them instead of seeking one who is rather similar to them. Finding someone different means he or she possesses a varied and different set of skills.

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Third

Get the most out of mentors. Whenever individuals find their mentor or their main advisor they tend to relax. The sense of being accompanied often ends up being detrimental for this self-improvement process. Try not to get used to the fact that mentors are “always” available, because, sadly, they are not. That is what makes their advice so valuable.

Fourth

There will always be an imbalance between the mentor’s vision and the mentee’s vision. Actually, the mentee’s vision, due to several reasons, might differ from reality, especially the reality of the things around their concerns. This scenario suggests that mentees should be constantly working on the relationship with their mentors in order to avoid any misalignment with the mentee’s goals.

Fifth

Do not feel like it is necessary to find someone in within the same industry or within the same location. Of course, mentees should always consider looking for both men and women as their mentors. It is particularly important to find those who happen to be highly different in comparison since this way mentees will be provided with a much broader spectrum of possibilities and perspectives. Never forget: under today’s circumstances, in today’s digital juncture, it has never been more possible to build and foster a successful mentor-mentee relationship: there are plenty of communication tools—Skype being the most widely used, FaceTime and several chats that allow individuals to interact with each other.

The fourth industrial revolution brought along endless possibilities and allowed the unthinkable. As someone looking for a piece of advice irrespective of motivation, today it is possible to get past boundaries and find the perfect individual. Whether as entrepreneurs or professionals looking to improve their performance at their jobs, having a mentor nearby (and learning from them) is a highly valuable thing.

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How To Start A Great Mentoring Program At Work

Starting a mentoring program is one of the most intelligent, positively impacting and long-lasting decisions you can make for your business. Mentoring initiatives are something that touches everyone in the company, and they are not directed only towards a specific demographic, but instead, they are available to all those who care about their personal and professional growth, no matter what their current position inside the organization. Mentoring also has benefits that are directly related to individual development but can also boost employee satisfaction and retention levels while at the same time making your company more attractive to prospective employees or individuals in general interested in the organization.

One of the best parts of mentoring is that instead of having to invest in external resources to be brought into the company, you are capitalizing on the assets you already have, mainly the human component of those resources.

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Creating a high-impact mentoring program may not be as difficult as you think, considering all of the benefits that a well-established initiative can bestow upon a company that takes it seriously and decides to use to properly take advantage of everything their employees have to offer. Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to talk about the things you need to consider and some of the most basic steps to get started and put together a mentoring program that will surely make a difference.

It only makes sense that the first step to take in the creation of such program would be to define the general and specific objectives of the initiative. What do you want to accomplish? Is this about better preparing your people to remain competitive in the market? Do you want to strengthen the leadership of your organization by helping senior leaders hone their skills while giving junior associates a closer look at the inner workings of leadership in action? Is this all about accomplishing better retention and having employees gain perspective or a new appreciation for their company? Do you want to introduce your people to a new skill and decide to use a mentoring program to do so? The answer to all of these questions will probably provide you with a good idea as to which concepts you must focus on while designing the program and which areas will not be so important when making decisions about putting it together.

Your target audience is very important when you are in the planning stages of the program because they dictate the needs of your design. You have to know what motivates your people, where they are in the career and what would be their logical next steps in a quest for growth. Knowing this information will allow you to come up with realistic goals that can be measured according to the participants’ performance and it can come as a huge help to leaders who participate by giving them an idea of the areas in which they can be most helpful and so that they can self-evaluate to gain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses to support the initiative. It is important to remember that a successful mentoring program will always have a strong structure but also be characterized by its flexibility. Remember that no two mentoring relationships are the same, so you must prepare for that.

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It doesn’t matter how well designed your program is, it must have an excellent marketing campaign. People in the organization must know that it exists and in the worst-case scenario, at least know what a mentoring program is. It happens quite often that companies announce a mentoring program and are met with a great deal of enthusiasm by a member of the organization, however, the turnout is low and the actual interest seem lower than expected. This happens because people may not truly understand how mentoring works and what it can do for them. It is important that a program is not simply announced, but that actual training is thrown into the mix. Participants must understand all aspects of mentoring so they can see what they are getting into, understand the positive impact that it can bring into their lives and also know how they can maximize their effort by being active participants in their own evolution.

Mentors and mentees must be paired properly and plan to do so must be made considering all approaches. Sometimes these relationships are born organically, but in some case, the organization must step in and help both sides meet based on the criteria each participant has according to what they want from the program and what they can bring to the table. This step is crucial so you must understand how it will take place. Do not let these partnerships be on their own and forget about them completely; remember the organization must be there and provide support in any way it can since the success of a mentoring program is going to be of great influence to the future of the organization.

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How to have a positive impact as a mentor

The job of a mentor is quite serious. It is meant to have an impact on somebody else’s life. Therefore, it better be a good impact.

If we took a minute to think about the best mentor we have ever had, we would remember some important pieces of advice, attitudes, situations and all sorts of events that would help us identify why our mentor had such a positive impact in our lives.

On the mentor’s side, having a positive impact on mentees can be quite challenging. Not because intentions are not nice. But, because becoming the example to follow or the advice-giver of someone who is trusting you its career, is rather difficult and represents a big responsibility.

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There are many different types of mentors. All of them may vary according to the type of business they work with, or the type of mentee they will guide. It can even be said that mentors come in every possible “shape and flavor”. They can come in the shape of a dear professor, a friend, family member, a parent, or a coach.

Regardless the type of mentor that you want to become or already are, there are some basic tips that you should keep in mind in order to have a positive impact on your mentees. Here, Suzzanne Uhland will share some of these tips.

Related: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

1 – You need to know what it means to be a mentor

If you are in the business world or are a lawyer and you are good at what you do, you will inevitably become a mentor. This is something that most people can’t escape of and it is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and legacy.

However, before you become a mentor you need to actually know what that means. It is not about improvising and acting according to your needs. It is actually about knowing your mentee and establishing a relationship with that person.

Being a good mentor requires you to develop communication skills as well as a working style. Nevertheless, if you really want to have a positive impact on your mentee, you need to gain their trust as their advisor.

Being a trusted advisor can mean several different things. All these things are summarized in making yourself available for your mentee whenever it needs advice and support. Giving your mentee support is what actually defines your role as a mentor.

Acknowledging your role as a mentor and knowing how to support your mentee in order to provide it with great advice and support, will help your mentee keep a great mindset. This will represent the greatest impact overall.

2 – Measure time

A mentor and mentee relationship should not last forever. It will need to last for as long as the mentee feels ready to face the challenges of the market. In terms of time, this cannot be defined properly.

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The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can be as short as one single meeting around a cup of coffee or as long as several years of preparation. It is important to keep in mind that when this kind of relationships extend in time and become long term, the mentor has the obligation of actually knowing its mentee.

The longer the mentoring process is, the more important it becomes for the mentor to know and understand the goals, personality, and learning style of its mentee. Long-term relationships regarding this matter are more fulfilling when both parties have an enriching attitude towards the other.

3 – Define your mentorship plan and expectations

Not all mentors are equal, and not all mentee will react in the same way to the same things. Having said that, if the mentor wants to have an amazing impact on its mentee, it should prepare a mentorship plan.

This plan must be based on the expectations that both parties share from the beginning. Expectations work as goals and clarify what both parties want and don’t want since the moment they start their relationship

Understanding these expectations will help you understand where your mentee is coming from when asking something from you, and vice versa.

4 – Work on your emotional intelligence

Being a mentor can be emotionally challenging. There might be situations in which you want to give up, react poorly, and stop your job right there. This is why emotional intelligence plays such an important role in the job of any mentor.

By becoming a mentor, you will get the chance to know they very special personality of your mentee. You will have to deal with its needs and the previous experiences that have shaped your mentees personality. Knowing all this and using this information in the best interest of yourself and the mentee will make a huge difference.

Keeping all these tips in mind will help become a good mentor and have a positive impact on your mentee.

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