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Being a Mentor Doesn’t Always Have to Involve Excessive Time

People often ask, “What are the benefits of being a mentor?” Some people feel that being a mentor is a lot of work for little result.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider every professional sports team and the Olympic teams; every national sport has a team of coaches to mentor star athletes and help them achieve higher greatness. No individual coach can be a mentor to every person on a team, but every coach can offer a practical way to achieve goals.

The Benefits of Having a Mentor

If star athletes still need mentors, then everyone can benefit from having a mentor. Having a mentor offers numerous benefits.

Personal and Professional Growth

A mentor provides guidance and support, helping you to develop new skills and competencies and achieve your personal and professional goals. Also, a mentor can offer you a different perspective on a situation if you’re struggling with accomplishing a goal. Learning from a mentor is a powerful tool for anyone seeking personal or professional growth.

Improved Self-Confidence

Every person has the capacity for an abundant amount of self-confidence. You should know your strengths and be confident in them. Having a mentor who believes in you and your abilities can boost your confidence and self-esteem, giving you the courage to take on new challenges and opportunities.

Better Networking Opportunities

Mentors can introduce you to people in their network, expanding your opportunities for professional connections and knowledge development. Speaking to someone outside your network can give you an outsider’s perspective on a situation and help you consider different viewpoints when you’re making important decisions.

At times, it’s good to get the opinion of an impartial person rather than someone who might have a vested interest in the decision. For example, a new job in another state might sound attractive, but it’s necessary to consider many factors before you make any move.

A mentor can hold you accountable for reaching your goals and provide motivation and encouragement when you face obstacles. Sometimes, you might want to believe you are closer to a goal than you really are.

More Accountability and Motivation

However, being accountable and remaining motivated is hard without outside support. A mentor can hold you accountable for your actions when things get tough, and that mentor can help boost your mood when you feel like giving up.

Reduced Stress

Mentoring can provide a sense of purpose and direction, helping you to feel more satisfied and fulfilled personally and professionally. Furthermore, having a mentor who can offer guidance and support can reduce stress and help you manage your work and other responsibilities better. People with mentors tend to be happier because they have someone to go to in order to discuss challenging problems in a safe environment.

Related: Using Today’s Technology to Enhance Mentoring Capabilities

Why Should You Be a Mentor?

Mentoring is generally considered an effective way to support someone’s personal and professional development. According to Together, numerous studies have shown that mentoring can lead to positive outcomes for both the mentee and the mentor, including improved job performance and increased job satisfaction. A mentor can also offer sage advice for a mentee haunted by life and work challenges.

Often, what holds people back from being a mentor is time. Our lives are so busy already – where can we find the time to become successful mentors?

There is a common belief that mentoring takes a lot of time. However, it’s possible to mentor people in minutes if you have a good understanding of what will be expected from you as a mentor.

One must realize that mentoring is not a therapy session. Being a mentor is about motivating, supporting and giving advice to people with less experience. Mentoring in just a few minutes can be challenging, but there are a few strategies that can help.

Related: How to Create a Successful First Meeting with Your Mentor

Focus on the Most Critical Points

Identify the key areas where your mentee needs help and focus on those areas in your mentoring session. Discuss coping strategies with your mentee if you know they will face work challenges in the future. If there are other issues or risks, be sure to discuss them as well.

When you participate in a mentoring session, know what message you want to share in advance. Mentoring is not a one-way interaction.

However, if something unexpected comes up, stick to your mentoring plan but address those other concerns later. Your time is important too, so make sure to let your mentee know that you will think about what has been said and give some advice at another time.

Use Real-Life Examples

Use real-life examples to illustrate your points to your mentee, so that those points are easier to understand. Tell a story of a similar situation to help explain what you did and why you took the actions.

Storytelling is important because people remember a story better than direct advice. My mom told me to clean my room, but did I always listen? No.

Later, my mom told me a story called “The Entities of Bad Luck” where the spirits of bad luck would visit children who did not clean their rooms. I still remember that story, and it did motivate me to clean my room.

Provide Actionable Advice

When you’re being a mentor, give practical advice that your mentee can use immediately. Offer a plan to address a particular problem, but be sure to offer your advice as a recommendation, not a command.

When you’re being a mentor, give practical advice that your mentee can use immediately.

Give your mentee the time to think over your advice and see if the information is used.  Mentoring is about a relationship of like-minded equals.

Listen Actively

Listening is one of the most crucial skills for mentoring. Give your mentee your undivided attention and actively listen to what he or she says.

Sometimes, people just want to vent and be heard by a sympathetic listener. Take active listening seriously, and make sure to understand what your mentee is saying. This information will help you formulate a recommendation.

Be Concise and Use Technology

As you’re being a mentor, keep your mentoring session short and to the point. Avoid getting sidetracked by unrelated topics.

Also, stick to the mentoring plan and make sure to offer advice directly related to a mentee’s work challenges. If you’re not mentoring in person, use video conferencing or screen sharing to make your session more interactive.

Understanding a mentee’s body language is also crucial, because it allows you to gauge how your information is being received and the mentoring session’s effectiveness.

As You’re Being a Mentor, Remember That Mentoring Is an Ongoing Process

Remember that mentoring is an ongoing process rather than a one-time event, and it’s unlikely that you can provide all the guidance someone needs in just a few minutes. But with practice, the more productive mentoring sessions will become. However, you can still make a valuable impact on your mentee by maintain your focusing on the most important issues and providing actionable advice.

Remember to ‘PROGRESS’

When you’re working with mentees, decide in advance on the purpose of your mentoring session. By following several important strategies, you are more likely to achieve excellent results.

To remember these strategies, remember the acronym PROGRESS. It stands for Praise, Redirect, One-on-One, Goals, Relationship, Expectations, Self-Reflection and Sorry.

Praise: Catch your mentee doing something right and give praise in one minute or less. Extended praise might appear insincere, so keep it brief but specific.

Be specific about what your mentee did well and how it positively impacted a mentee’s team or organization. If the mentee is the kind of person who wants public praise, give that praise in public. For mentees who are more reserved, offer the praise in private.

Redirect: If your mentee is not meeting job expectations or making mistakes, give the mentee feedback on how to improve. Be direct but respectful, and provide actionable advice on how the behavior can be corrected.

Consider using the “sandwich method,” which involves offering praise before and after your information on how a mentee can improve. Making a discussion all about negative information will be counterproductive in the long term.

One-on-One Guidance: Being a mentor means providing personalized guidance and support tailored to an individual’s needs. It also involves helping your mentee develop new skills, overcome challenges, and achieve personal or professional goals.

Offer constant guidance and support throughout the mentoring process. Be available to answer your mentee’s questions and provide advice when it is needed. This guidance might take longer than a few minutes, but it should be both productive and brief.

Goals: Establish clear, achievable goals with your mentee in one minute or less. Ensure the goals are specific, measurable, and relevant to the mentee’s role and the organization’s objectives.

Also, write down the goals so that they can be discussed in the future. Goals should not be limited to the workplace as your mentee might have other career goals outside a current role or responsibilities.

Relationship: With your mentee, build a strong relationship based on trust, honesty and mutual respect. Please get to know your mentee’s strengths, weaknesses and goals.

The mentee also needs to get to know you as well. If the mentee knows your experience and knowledge, the mentee is more likely to respect your opinions.

Expectations: Define what you want to achieve with your mentee through mentoring, and clearly communicate your goals and expectations with your mentee. Make sure to clearly define expectations for both of you and establish ways that both of you will benefit from the mentor-mentee relationship.

Self-Reflection: Encourage your mentee to reflect on personal and professional experiences, identify areas where the mentee needs to grow and develop a plan to achieve the mentee’s goals.

Explain your own self-reflection and how it has helped you with achieving goals. Self-reflection can teach people a lot. Knowing where you were and where you are now can also offer a fresh perspective on personal and professional growth.

Sorry: If you make a mistake or let your mentee down, take the responsibility and apologize quickly. Taking responsibility shows your mentee that you are accountable and value in keeping their trust. Hold yourself accountable and make sure that others know it.

Mentoring Sometimes Needs Evaluation and Adjustment

When you’re being a mentor, regularly evaluate your mentee’s progress and adjust your mentoring approach as needed. Always remember that mentoring is a partnership; both parties must be committed to the process, and the mentee should take an active role in growth and development. Following these strategies can help your mentee achieve goals and fully develop skills and capabilities.

Dr. Robert Gordon, CPC, is a faculty member of the reverse logistics management and government contracting and acquisition programs at the University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Los Angeles; a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix; and a doctoral degree in management from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Gordon also holds graduate certificates in information technology project management, information technology security and logistics management from American Public University.

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