Mentoring – Part II

Last week we discussed the value of having a mentor and the incredible tool is is in personal and professional development. We discussed how and where to find a mentor, what to expect, and the mentees personal responsibilities. This week we will focus on the mentor. Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity to help someone grow. Yes it requires commitment, but it also proves beneficial not only to the mentoree, but to the mentor.

Why should I become a mentor?
Because personal and professional growth is not based solely upon the amount of knowledge and experience you gain over the years; it is also the result of sharing that knowledge and experience with others.

Keys to successful mentoring

Be ready to stand behind your commitment:
Mentoring is an ongoing relationship. While it may only last a few months in some situations, it often continues for an extended period of time – in some cases, years. Consistency and commitment are critical. Once you define your input – how often you will meet and for how long – it’s important to maintain it. Neither fail to ignore the boundaries you have set, nor fail to keep the commitment you have made. Consistency builds trust in the relationship. The mentoree gains confidence in your interest and in their value as an individual. You gain insight into their personality, skills, and professional bent, enabling you to help more effectively.

Set a clear example:
Mentoring is a serious responsibility. In addition to the time commitment, glass walls suddenly surround your life. Your mentee will do more than listen to your advice; they will observe your ethics, attitudes, professional and personal conduct, methods, and procedures. In a sense, they will follow your footsteps, gaining confidence because of your relationship and assimilating some of your style into their own.

Remember, it’s ultimately their journey, not yours:
Yes, as stated above, the mentoree will absorb some the mentor’s attitudes, beliefs, styles etc. but this is all the more a reason to keep the focus on their journey. The point is to help them recognize and mature in their personal gifts and strengths. You are training them to grow as an individual with his/her own path to success, not to reproduce yours.

Be a good listener:
The only way to share wisdom and counsel, and provide quality advice, is first to listen. If you don’t understand the underlying currents beneath a calm surface, it is difficult to know what direction to turn their raft. Listen to and get to know the whole person – are they extrovert or introvert? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where do they lack confidence? The answers to these questions, and others, will help you to help them more effectively.

Encourage and teach:
Mentors who provide all the answers aren’t mentors. Teach them how to approach a problem and find the answer. Share your personal experiences; serve as a confidant, sounding-board, and personal advisor, but encourage them to recognize their resources, strategize, and take personal responsibility for growth. Open doors when you can, of course, and connect them with crucial people in your own network, but let them take the next step.

Be willing to give honest criticism:
Honest feedback and input is crucial to the ultimate purpose of the relationship. Pruning a fruit tree produces a higher quality, more abundant crop – likewise in a mentoring relationship. Be kind, but be willing to point out areas that need change, attitudes and/or practices that need to be cut away.

Live with integrity:
Be honest about yourself too. No one is perfect and you shouldn’t present yourself as such. Share your mistakes and well as your successes. If you struggle in a particular area, admit it. Being willing to “own up” is a great example and inspiration to their personal growth. It will only increase their respect for, and confidence in your advice.

While the primary purpose of the relationship is to advise, inspire, motivate, and help the mentoree, you will also reap personal benefits. Not only will you increase your own leadership and relationship skills, building your personal portfolio and your career, you will also gain the personal satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in someone’s world, and ultimately know the joy of leaving a legacy.

Contact Springborn Staffing. Whether you are the mentoree or the mentor, or even both at the same time, we can help you put your skills and experience to use in your dream position. We serve clients and candidates in the Portland and Bangor, Maine area.

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