To be a great mentor, you must take it seriously even though it is a volunteer, unpaid position. You have in your hands the future of someone that wants to be successful. It’s important that you have or are willing to build the following skills to be a great mentor.
- Building Competences – It’s important that you can identify what your mentee is already a natural at, as well as what they need to improve upon and how they can do it. If you can help the mentee know where to look for the additional education, that is an awesome thing.
- Inspiring and Motivating – The ability to inspire and motivate people to be uncomfortable and get to the next level is an important skill for a mentor to have. As a great mentor, you’ll be able to make your mentee feel good about themselves and as if they can move ahead.
- Providing Feedback – Know how to provide feedback in the best way. You should give more good news than bad news, but be able to give bad news in a respectful way too. You don’t want to make them feel too down about themselves even when they need work.
- Managing Risks – Share with your mentee the mistakes you’ve made in your career and what you would do differently. Make suggestions that will help them avoid major mistakes in their career, even to the point of addressing personal debt. That’s the type of personal thing you should get into with someone you’re mentoring.
- Ability to Open Doors – If you can open doors for the right people due to your connections, you can make an amazing mentor for someone. If you don’t have that ability, it doesn’t mean you can’t help people, but a really great mentor can do that.
- Active Listening – This is a skill that is important for almost anyone to have. Active listening means to pay attention to what someone is saying and to be interested. You need to show interest by asking the right questions. Then to ensure that you understood what they said, you’ll say back to them what you thought they said in your own words until you get it right.
- Trust Building – You need to be the type of person who doesn’t gossip or share private information with people. You’ll want to respect your mentee’s boundaries, be able to disagree in a tactful way, and have no judgment about cultural, gender, style and age differences. Building trust means to form a no-judgment zone around yourself.
- Encouraging – Being able to praise and encourage people to succeed without appearing condescending is a great skill to have. You want to give credit where credit is due without pouring it on like syrup. You want to enable them to think for themselves by showing them how they already do, and to show that they do a good job by pointing it out.
- Goal Identification – Helping your mentee identify their goals and create a plan to achieve them is an important aspect of being a mentor. You’re not just a sounding board. You need to actively help them set “SMART goals” that have a plan behind them.
- Understanding Current Realities – You must be the type of person who realizes that times have changed from 20 or 30 years ago when you entered the workforce. Think about your starting pay, for example, then plug it into a calculator to find out how much less your contemporaries are getting paid for the same job. That will be eye-opening.
If you have these skills, you’ll likely really get a lot out of mentoring someone too. Mentorships can help you stay on the cusp of what’s upcoming in the world by being around younger, fresher ideas with people who are still excited about their career trajectory.