How to be an effective workplace mentor

With the coming of the New Year, it’s a great time to start afresh, put the mistakes of the past behind you and look forward to the great opportunities of the next 12 months. It’s also a time for managers to evaluate what they can do for the rest of their team in order to maximise their potential in the workplace. It may be the case that some employees would benefit from one-to-one mentoring to help fast-track their development. Becoming a mentor is not easy but with the right approach it can be hugely rewarding for both parties.

Let others benefit from experience

Mentors have to share what they have learned from personal experience. If it was as simple as providing broad generalisations about good business values, then it would be better to provide those being trained with a book. Mentors need to remember what is was like when they were junior and the many difficulties they faced on their pathway towards success. It’s easy to forget the lessons learned along the way, and it’s highly valuable to help others learn from mistakes that have been made.

Make a commitment

Mentoring cannot be done in a single chat but requires a long term commitment from both parties. Scheduled catch-ups should be part of the process but a mentor’s door should remain open for informal chats as and when required. Mentoring will involve taking an overall view of the mentee’s work so it’s important to become familiar with the big picture in order to advise them in an informed way, should they require any insights.

Act as a role model

It perhaps goes without saying but mentors should conduct themselves in a way befitting of the role. This means that they should act like the model employee being punctual, helpful and efficient. By demonstrating the right attributes to be successful in the workplace, it shows others a path towards a successful career.

Demonstrate wider knowledge

To effectively share wisdom with the next generation, mentors have to exhibit an in-depth knowledge of their area of expertise that can demonstrably benefit the career development of those being mentored. In this situation, knowledge really is power and it’s important that mentors can answer any questions that mentees might have. This will be accomplished by staying up to date with all of the latest news and innovations within the industry. By showing an enthusiasm for a particular subject, you will be able to inspire others to learn and become passionate themselves, and drive them to become experts.

Provide constructive criticism

While the role of the mentor is one of support, that doesn’t mean they only dole out praise. It’s important to constantly monitor work and provide constructive feedback. Good communication skills will be important in order to provide plenty of positive reinforcement as you help others understand how they can improve their approach and final product. The reason for mentoring is to help people improve, so it would be futile to take an authoritarian or confrontational stance. Instead, use diplomatic language and highlight the positives while identifying areas for improvement.

Listen

A good mentor should sincerely make time to listen to any concerns that employees may have and act on them where appropriate. By getting to know the everyday challenges facing individuals, mentors can then provide advice that’s suited to each party and help them to transform their weaknesses into strengths.

Contact us today to find out how our Performance Academy can help maximise the potential of your employees.