When someone taps you to be their mentor, it’s both an honor and a responsibility. Your guidance and feedback can truly shape this individual’s career and help them to grow both personally and professionally. If you want to become a valuable mentor, consider using these strategies:
Give criticism, but position it properly
This person has chosen you to be their mentor in hopes that you can teach them and help them to grow professionally. Simply offering praise doesn’t benefit anyone in this situation. Feel free to offer honest feedback if you see areas in which that person can improve, but make sure to do so in a tactful way. This feedback will be helpful, but remember that this person looks up to you, so harsh words can have a lasting negative impact.
Share your own experiences
This person respects and admires you, so they’re probably curious to hear your own tales about coming up through the ranks. Feel free to share stories that might prove relevant to them. How did you overcome a similar challenge to what they’re facing now? How did you navigate the start of a new job? Offering your own personal stories elevates your relationship, and also helps to keep your mentee feeling inspired.
Help them make other connections
While having a mentor is important, this young professional will also want to work on developing a network of other connections in their chosen industry. Many times people who are new in a field struggle to do this. You can assist by taking your mentee to a networking event and helping to introduce them around so that they can start conversations with other industry professionals. This is a huge help to the person who has chosen you as their mentor, and is also a good way to continue building your own network.
Remember that mentoring isn’t all about time. Even if you only have 15 minutes to spend with that person that week, your words of encouragement and guidance can play a major role in shaping that young professional’s career. Regardless of how little or how much time you have to give, your attention is hugely helpful to a person who is just getting started in your field.