What makes a great mentor?

what makes a good mentor?To be a great mentor you need to efficiently manage workloads and employees; as well as ensure deadlines are achieved with great outputs by providing essential training and guidance along the way.

A recent report showed that 85% of Generation Y interns expect to be monitored through their experience. They expect mentorship to be meaningful, engaging and beneficial to their future careers.

If done correctly, the relationship between mentor and mentee can be very rewarding. Mentors can ensure positive learning experiences and help their mentees develop the skills and qualities to do the job well.


The role of a Mentor

As a mentor you will be a trusted guide, willing to share your own experiences and insights by providing helpful feedback and asking open questions.

However, a delicate balance must be struck, as giving unwelcome feedback will be a negative experience. You must be genuinely interested in your mentee, understand what drives them and what their hopes are for the future. With this information you will be able to act in their best interest and become a positive role model.


Failures and Successes

It’s inevitable that at some point your mentee will get it wrong. This is an opportunity to act as a sounding board for their thoughts and concerns, whilst offering a fresh perspective on the situation. By sharing your own mistakes, your mentee will be reminded that it’s not the end of the world and that everyone else who works there was once in a similar situation.

Mentor word cloudIn contrast, one of the most important things you can do as a mentor is to celebrate your mentee’s achievements. Coming into any new job is always a pretty steep learning curve, with hundreds of new techniques and processes to be learned in a short space of time. Their successes should become your own, after all; they are a reflection of the high quality of your teaching. Positive reinforcement, helpful feedback and allowing for your mentees questions, will teach them to trust their own judgement and to continue to learn.


When to offer advice

Ideally, the best mentors know when to offer their wisdom and advice. Instead of jumping straight in with their own solutions, the use of open questions is an extremely useful tool. More often than not, by the mentor asking the right questions, the mentee will draw their own correct conclusions about the situation and will recognise the expected consequences.

It is imperative never to make decisions for your mentee, as this will train them to not think for themselves and adheres to a more traditional and austere management style. Mentoring is about teaching people to learn from their own experiences, whether they are good or bad.


Learn by example

Active listening from the mentor, a willingness to learn from the mentee and working together through problems is vital to strengthening the relationship. Remember, some of the best learning is done through watching, so a mentor should try to always set a good example through their own work ethic.


role model in letterpress typeA great mentor is a role model

In time a mentor should expect a mentee to rely on them less and less. One of the greatest privileges of a mentor is seeing their pupil spreading their wings taking on new and exciting challenges within the company. Whether this is through heading up a project of their own, being given greater responsibility or even a promotion, it is a wonderful feeling to know that you were a key part in that initial development.


A meaningful, positive and rewarding mentoring experience will have a great impact on your mentee. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and the biggest complement you’ll receive is a few years down the line when they become the mentor. They’ll reflect your own teaching methods, pass on the lessons you taught them and be that same positive influence you were to them.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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