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Top 10 Mentoring Tips for 2016

Being a mentor is not about what you can gain, it is about what you can give. Mentorship is not about satisfying your own needs. It is an honour to be chosen as a mentor, so it’s up to you to live up to the title.

Mentoring is all about a collaborative relationship. It is about guidance and helping a person reach a goal. The definition of a mentor is “an experienced and trusted advisor”, so when thinking about what mentorship is, it’s about providing guidance and advice based on the invaluable insight, experience and knowledge that you have, and that you can share as a trusted confidante.

To be a successful mentor there are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • The trusting process is a huge component of the mentoring relationship. Establishing a trusting and meaningful relationship will enhance the mentoring experience for both of you.  This can be done by establishing clear rules of engagement where both parties commit to total confidentiality. Confidentiality creates an openness; whereby mentors are able to share specific and relevant examples from their own experiences; which not only includes their triumphs, but also their poor decisions and failures. Value in any mentoring relationship does not only come from sharing the positive experiences, but also the negative ones.
  • Creating professional boundaries ensures that the mentor and mentee’s roles remain uncompromised, and allow both parties to maintain an objective perspective. By focusing on the current goal and objective of your mentee, these professional boundaries can be easily maintained.
  • Knowing your limits, whether applied to time or knowledge will allow you to provide the best you can for your mentee. If you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, or lacking in the areas of guidance sort after by your mentee – be honest. As a mentor, we acknowledge, you cannot be expected to know everything; besides mentoring is a productive dialogue that encourages the sharing of strengths and weaknesses, without having to put up a front.
  • Commitment is a big component to any mentoring relationship. You need to be prepared to dedicate regular session times; where agendas are set, and participation is defined by the mentees current confronting problem. Your commitment not only demonstrates your support and dedication to their needs and development; but ensures they are held accountable to achieving their goal.
  • Listening and asking questions is key to achieving positive results. Mentoring is not therapy, but by establishing your mentee’s goal and asking relevant questions, allows you as a mentor to successfully guide your mentee. Giving your mentee the tools to problem solve and find the answers for themselves is the most effective way of imparting wisdom.
  • Storytelling is a preferred method of knowledge sharing. When mentors share specific and relevant examples, offering genuine advice based on true life-life experiences, they instil a sense of credibility. Mentors also demonstrate an understanding of their mentee’s needs; whereby they are able to empathise with them. Storytelling is a more memorable form of information and idea sharing. 
  • Initiating conversation and establishing some common ground with your mentee can help to break the ice and get the process moving. Building rapport makes it easier for your mentee to approach you – the first step to building an open and trusting relationship, where it is both comfortable to share and disclose information without the fear of repercussion.
  • Giving honest feedback is a good way of strengthening a mentoring relationship. It suggests that you have listened, heard and have a vested interest in your mentee. Try to give constructive advice and focus on the positives as this usually makes others more responsive to your comments.
  • Be Yourself! Each mentoring relationship will take place between two unique individuals. By accepting that everyone has their own distinctive personalities and by remaining authentic, you will build your credibility as a genuine mentor.
  • The more you mentor, doing it your own way, with passion and conviction, the better you will become at it.  

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