HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’LL ENJOY BEING A MENTOR
We all have things we can teach others, but mentorship requires a specific level of dedication and responsibility
We’ve all felt unsure at times in our careers whether we’re on the right path or not. At different points along the journey, coworkers have steered, guided, and empowered us—and it made all the difference. Once you’re down that path a bit, a great way to give back, and keep learning yourself, is by being a mentor. But it’s not for everyone, so it’s important to know if you’ll enjoy it before jumping in.
We all have things we can teach others, but mentorship requires a specific level of dedication and responsibility that needs to be understood so that both the mentor and mentee benefit from the partnership.
What does a mentor do?
Mentorship is a mutually beneficial professional relationship in which an experienced person (mentor) imparts knowledge, expertise, and wisdom to a less experienced person (mentee) while simultaneously honing their mentoring skills.
A mentor serves as a sounding board at critical points throughout the mentee’s career. They provide guidance on career management that the mentee cannot get from other sources, an insider’s perspective on the business, and make introductions to key industry contacts. The relationship is usually a mix of friendly and supportive advice, but the mentor should always have the mentee’s best interests in mind and be flexible enough to tailor their style to meet the mentee’s needs. (1)
What are the signs that you are ready to be a mentor? (2)
Take the time to do a thorough self-evaluation, being honest with yourself about where you are in your career and whether now is the right time to take on the responsibility of being a mentor. Think about whether these apply to you right now.
Your skills are in demand. Are you frequently asked for advice, feedback, or help by your peers, colleagues, or clients? Do you have valuable insights and expertise that others can learn from and apply to their own situations? Do you have a proven track record of delivering results, solving problems, and mastering your domain?
You have a growth mindset. A mentor is also always a mentee, ready to learn and grow themselves. Do you believe that you
and others can improve your abilities and performance through effort, feedback, and learning? Do you treat challenges, mistakes, and failures as opportunities to grow and learn? Are you open to feedback and criticism, and use them to improve yourself and your work? Are you curious, humble, and positive in the face of adversity?
You enjoy helping others. Do you have a genuine interest in the success and wellbeing of others? Are you willing to invest your time, energy, and resources to help them? Do you enjoy seeing others grow and thrive as much as you do yourself? Are you known as empathetic, respectful, and trustworthy?
You have clear goals and expectations. Being an effective mentor requires having a vision and a purpose that you can communicate clearly. You need to have realistic and measurable objectives and milestones that can be tracked and evaluated for accountability, progress, and impact.
You are flexible and adaptable. It’s critical for mentors to be able to adjust their style, approach, and methods as needed to suit the preferences and personalities of mentees. There is no one-size-fits-all mentorship model. You’ll have to adapt to changing circumstances, challenges, and opportunities while helping your mentees do the same. Being a mentor means getting out of your comfort zone to explore and embrace new possibilities and perspectives.
Do you have the time?
This is a very easy one to get wrong. Many make the mistake of assuming they can and will always make the time because they genuinely care and want to help. But purposed relationships especially require the raw time to nurture for the desired impact.
A good mentor has to have a certain amount of availability and be responsive. They should be willing to hop on a call, send a thoughtful email, or meet up for coffee. If they’re not, the relationship can quickly fizzle. There’s no predetermined amount of time for good mentorship, but that’s where the flexible and adaptable part comes in. You might talk to a mentee once a quarter
or meet up once a month for lunch. A mentor-mentee partnership can last a short time, while others may end up lifelong friendships. (3)
Ready to be a mentor?
Being a mentor can be one of the most exciting decisions you make. You’ll be in a position to help someone else develop skills and habits to build a successful career and achieve their goals. But there is much to be gained for you too. Mentors develop stronger leadership skills that help them advance their own careers. Ultimately, it’s a wonderful opportunity to pass along the
kindness and sound advice that you’ve received throughout your career. (4)
Thanks for checking out the blog.
Joe Breslin, CFP®
(1) Business News Daily: How to Find a Mentor
(2) LinkedIn: What are the signs that you are ready to be a mentor?
(3) HubSpot: 9 Mentor Traits To Look For and Why They Matter
(4) Together: How To Know If You’ll Be A Great Mentor