A mentor is a person with information, experience or expertise that is beneficial to others and holds strong beliefs in supporting others by sharing this knowledge with the world.
By learning about their strengths and using them to co-create strategies, they serve as a guide, coach and support system to bring out the best in individuals. They understand that people have different styles of learning and experiments to find the one that best fits the individual.
A great mentor is also conscious that there are unique circumstances and issues for every person. To another person, advice that works for one does not apply. This helps them to learn and provide tailor-made advice about their mentee’s particular challenges.
While a mentor shares their insight, expertise and guidance on the basis of their own experience, they understand the importance of allowing the other person space and time to create their own solutions. They motivate them to look through their own mental blocks to prevent mistakes in the past that they have made. They do not feel threatened by an idea which does not agree with their values or oppose it. Rather, by listening consciously to the other person and allowing them a chance to discuss it, they encourage it.
Mentorships are special relationships that in a professional setting are most frequently established. They are designed to help mentees develop new skills, network and become more productive in their careers. They often offer the mentee an opportunity to learn information from a more experienced co-worker.
Mentorship is not a work of’ doing it on the side’ or’ when I get time.’ It’s very hard work that, like any other aspect of our profession, needs commitment and dedication. It also takes a tremendous amount of energy to engage, direct, deal with the ups and downs and all potential human emotions that come into play when two individuals are trying to accomplish something meaningful, apart from being of vital importance to succeed in a mentor-mentee relationship.
A real meeting of minds involves loyalty to each other and their time. Set time limits, define cancellation protocol, agree on the medium to contact (email, f2f) depending on the issue. It is strongly recommended that both mentor and mentee write down and refer to their obligations from time to time.
In order to mutually profit from the partnership, both mentor and mentee must comply with their beliefs and values. A value clash later will trigger emotions that can hinder both sides to proceed effectively without first setting them up. Form a personal bond, understand the beliefs and values, strengths and limitations of each other, what drives them and what they want out of this relationship to accomplish. As the foundation for all discussions, address common ideals such as honesty, mutual respect, transparency, confidence and active listening.
A partnership with a mentor mentee based on ad hoc needs does not last long without setting specific objectives. It needs tapping into what the tutor wants to learn and not what the mentor wants to teach to build a learning environment. Mentees must take the driver’s seat and list their goals that they want to fulfill with the assistance of a mentor. Together, they need to build a short-term, long-term strategy listing targets and settle on a timeline to accomplish them.
Throughout their lives, people remember good mentors and mentees. When talking to others, they mention their examples and take inspiration from them when faced with difficult circumstances. Their journeys may go different directions, but it is the journey that remains forever with them. Note, strong mentees will one day become successful mentors. If you embark on it, do your best to develop this beautiful partnership that will in the future sow the seeds for many more.
This post is dedicated to Guan.
Check out my related post: How to be a better mentor?