As roles change in the everchanging world of work, achieving your goals sometimes can seem harder. The goalposts may move too. That’s where mentors can be very helpful in traversing your career path, whether you work for yourself or in a traditional business as an employee. When you have experience, mentoring someone is a great thing to do. But there are some do’s and don’ts to consider if you are asked to mentor someone.
Don’t Say Yes Immediately
Being a mentor is an important role to play in someone’s life. You want to ensure you’re the right person to do it. Just because you know someone doesn’t make you the right person. In fact, if you’re already very close to the person, it’s probably not the right situation. Think about it and ask the right questions before you determine if you will do it or not.
Do Ask Them Why They Picked You
When they ask you, immediately ask them why they picked you and what they want from the relationship. Develop a list of questions that will help you choose whether you’re the right fit or not. They may have some beliefs about you based on your position that are not true, or they may be right on. You have to ask.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Sometimes when you mentor someone and you know they are looking up to you, it’s tempting to try to act like you’re perfect. But you’re not. You’re human. For example, letting your mentee know that sometimes you also feel like a fake or an imposter can go a long way in helping them deal with their own feelings of inadequacy.
Do Set Up Communication Procedures
When you say yes, set up some guidelines about how and when your mentee can contact you and when you’ll have regular meetings. They can be as much as weekly or as little as monthly. Setting up the schedule in advance can help you both have space to grow, but also help you check in with each other when needed and appropriate.
Don’t Act Like You Know Everything
It’s okay to admit you don’t know everything. If something comes up that you can’t answer or help them with, as long as you can connect them to someone else who can or point them in the right direction, that is enough. You don’t have to have all the answers to every question. You can still be a good mentor.
Do Take Your Role Seriously
If you’re going to say yes, take your role very seriously. It’s important to the future of their career and you want to be an agent of good in their lives in that way. You should think hard about it before saying yes since it is a big responsibility.
Don’t Try to Solve All Their Problems
You’re not supposed to solve all their problems. Some things are easy fixes but others they need to figure out themselves. You can lead them in the right direction with your advice, but you can’t do it for them. They have to be the ones who take the action.
Do Set High Expectations
As a mentor, it’s okay to have expectations of the relationship, but you aren’t their puppet master. It’s okay if they don’t take your advice. However, if after some time they’re never taking your advice and things are not working out for them, you may want to redefine the relationship.
Don’t Get Involved in Their Personal Life
One thing that is off limits when it comes to mentoring someone for their business or work is getting involved in their personal life. This is not what you’re there for. They can go to friends for that information; for you, it should be all business.
As a mentor, you play an important role in your mentee’s life. Take it seriously, and only work with the right person that fits in with your way of doing things. If they are not right for you and you right for them, say no. You can recommend someone else potentially, but it’s okay to say no. When you do say yes, set it up to work for you both.