Maybe it was something you always wanted to do, or maybe you kind of fell into it accidentally, but first off, let me say “Hooray!” for you choosing to be a Career Mentor!
Most people don’t set this as a goal, but if you did, your love of helping others and making it a priority will surely shine through.
Oftentimes, people are watching that you may not have considered, and really like the work you do, the way you’ve handled yourself professionally, or the way you’ve climbed the career ladder to the position you’re currently holding.
Regardless of how you came about it, hopefully you’re striving to do your best. Sometimes mentorship responsibilities get lost in the shuffle of your own work production, volunteerism, or family life in general.
Maybe you’ve noticed that you feel you’ve been dropping the ball lately and aren’t as present as you once were. That’s ok! The point is, it’s something you’re recognising now and you know what they say — “Better late than never!”.
Taking time to refocus on being a better mentor is applaudable and a goal we’re here to help you achieve.
When we say “connect”, we mean to really connect with your mentee. Get to know them as much as possible, both professionally and personally. This doesn’t mean you need to blur boundaries and speak too much about your personal issues, but knowing a little about their personality and the things they like can help you advise on steps they can take that may be in their wheelhouse.
Likewise, if you know they really hate public speaking because they’ve opened up to you about an embarrassing toast they made at a friend’s wedding, you can help prod them to take a course to learn more confidence.
Also, understand, especially if you’re mentoring more than one person, that you can’t give the same advice to everyone.
Learning what makes them unique is a great opportunity for you to stretch those mental muscles and fulfill their particular needs.
When people are looking for a mentor, they don’t need another pat on the back — they have friends and family to tell them all the great things they need to hear. It behooves you to be honest with your mentee.
If the news is something that you’re worried may squash their enthusiasm for their career, find a kind way to deliver that information.
If you think the position they want to apply for will be really difficult for their personality type, open up about the tough facets of that particular job, or how they can find out more information if you don’t know what those may be. You have a perspective they admire, so share it!
Give Constructive Criticism.
This goes along nicely with the first two, but make sure you are constructive in your feedback, especially if they are the sensitive type.
Remember, you’re helping to shape someone’s career choices here, so it needs to be helpful. Deliver your advice with tact and understanding. They should feel safe coming to you for your thoughts, so don’t lay out for them every weakness that may be holding them back. They are probably well aware, and if you do discuss their weaknesses, be sure to offer some of their strengths.
At the end of the day, mentees are impressionable and are striving to do things right. Help them see the good they already have going for them, so they’re not intimidated about tackling their improvements.
Celebrate the Wins.
It’s really important to share in the good that comes from this special relationship – the wins!
If they’ve told you about a tough conversation they had where they spoke their mind, or “grabbed the bull by the horns” on any other issue you know they may have struggled with, see that as a success!
This doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part – an encouraging word or email will go a long way.
- They want to shine in the moment a little, and it’s absolutely appropriate for you to clap at the efforts they have made. And, don’t forget to give yourself a little pat, as well.
- They trusted you, after all, so appreciate the work you’ve done to help push them in this direction.
Take a Step Back.
Not to counter what I’ve just listed out, but there are times when it is expected for you to step back. Make sure you’re not hovering over every move they make.
After all, they’re not a puppet, and you’re not a puppet master who dictates what they should do or say on a daily basis. They may come to you for advice, but a real sign of success is when they can consider it, and still make the decision they feel is best for them.
Don’t take it harshly if they didn’t do exactly what you suggested, it’s nothing personal. They are finding their own way, and you’re here to guide when necessary.
Kudos to you for seeking out ways to become better at helping others! Mentors offer a great service, and you can harbor these relationships for many years, as well. Take this as an honour!
© Human Resources Global