Why You Should Mentor and How to be Awesome at It

If you consider yourself at all successful (which you definitely should), chances are you can look back and identify a person or people who invested time in you, shared their wisdom, and helped you get where you are today. Having a great mentor is one of the keys to success, and if you’ve benefitted by being a mentee, it’s time to start paying it forward by being on the other side. Here’s what you need to know before you become a fantastic mentor:

The Benefits

- You’ll be recognized as an expert in your field. You’ve invested a ton of time and energy into developing your skills, and your mentee will be incredibly thankful that you’re willing to share your expertise.

- You’ll be exposed to fresh new ideas, perspectives and approaches. Mentors can learn a ton from their mentees, and the meeting of generations will spark some innovative concepts.

- You’ll be able to recognize young talent when you’re recruiting in the future. Who knows? Maybe your mentee will be the next rockstar employee at your company.

The Requirements

- Mentoring is time consuming, so you have to truly make a commitment to meeting regularly. Don’t promise more time than you’re actually able to give.

- You have to believe in your mentee. Trying to help someone whose interests and goals don’t have anything in common with yours is a waste of both the mentor and mentee’s time.

How to Be Awesome

- Be open-minded and compassionate. Your mentee should be able to ask the “dumb questions” without feeling intimidated or judged.

- Be accessible outside of your typical meeting time. Your mentee should be able to call you when problems or questions arise. If you let a lot of time lapse between speaking with your mentee, you’re not actually building a relationship.

- Be honest. Keep things positive, but don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism or talk about the challenges that are ahead. No one has ever grown by having someone sugar-coat everything for them.

- Listen with intent. Listening can be every bit as powerful as speaking, but you have to do so in a way that allows your mentee to think critically. If your mentee tells you about a problem that he or she has encountered, ask more questions, draw parallels to your own experiences, and help generate ideas for solutions.

- Always focus on the goals of your mentee. Get to know what he or she hopes to accomplish in the short-term, long-term, professionally and personally. While you may hope that your mentee will join your company, put his or her interests first and help your mentee get where they want to go.