How to mentor a colleague
Mentoring the younger members of the team is one of those things that sounds like it should be easy, but can be really hard. You need to know what you’re doing or else people’s careers go nowhere!
Today, we will discuss mentoring techniques in the workplace.
Many companies offer formal mentorship programs that match new or young employees with senior members of the team. If your company participates, sign up and do it! It’s an amazing opportunity for both parties. This article will focus on what you need to know if you’re interested in mentoring your friends outside of a formal program.
What does it mean to be a mentor?
First of all, what is mentoring? According to the Cambridge Dictionary , mentoring means providing help or guidance to someone who can benefit from it. Mentoring is not just teaching. A teacher gives knowledge that the student doesn’t have; a mentor helps you gain insight into your own knowledge and what you already know.
Why you should want to be a mentor is the most important question, right after how to mentor people. Mentoring is mutually beneficial. You get more perspectives on problems and challenges. Your protégé gets advice from someone more experienced than they are. The team benefits because both of you are working toward common improvement goals.
In an ideal situation, both the mentor and the protégé grow from the experience. Not only does your team benefit from improved performance, but you also have a network of contacts that will help in many ways when you need it. Plus, it’s fun!
Establish trust and mutual respect
To be a good mentor, you need to establish trust and respect with your protege. It’s easy for them to feel intimidated in the office environment. You shouldn’t make them uncomfortable or treat them like they are inferior in any way. Instead, encourage growth by asking questions about their job and education. Don’t make assumptions. Make sure that you treat them respectfully and equally.
This is easier said than done. Your protégé will need your support and guidance, but don’t make it obvious that you’re “withholding” it from them on purpose. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and resentment down the road. They don’t want to bug you with questions, but they will if they need help. Be available to talk when it makes sense.
Be a good role model
The best way to mentor someone is by being an example. If you want your protégé to follow in your footsteps, show them how it’s done. They need both good and bad examples if they are going to learn anything from the situation.
Offer guidance and support
Mentors don’t just tell people what to do. They suggest ways that others can learn and grow. Your experience is valuable; share it with your protégé, but let them think about what works best for their situation. Ask questions if they need help to figure out the problem. Don’t solve every issue for them. This will take away from the learning experience.
Encourage open communication
Don’t be afraid to answer tough questions. Sometimes the best way to learn something is to hear about it from someone else. If your protégé needs help with a situation, don’t tell them what you think they want to hear. Tell them what you know or have experienced that could help guide their decision-making process.
Celebrate successes together
As a mentor, you need to be satisfied with the results of your protégé’s work. This is the best way for them to grow and learn from their mistakes. If they don’t get recognized by management when they succeed, what motivation do they have to keep trying? Mentoring is all about helping people grow in a productive manner.
Highlight your protégé’s strong points. Don’t be so focused on their mistakes that you forget to praise what they do well. Identify the things that will give your protégé an advantage in finishing tasks and getting ahead in their career. Mentoring someone is a long-term proposition, and it requires patience to overcome setbacks and obstacles.
Acknowledge mistakes and provide feedback
Your protégé will make mistakes. It’s inevitable. The trick is to not get angry when it happens, but use that opportunity to discuss what went wrong and how it could’ve been done better. If you didn’t notice the problem, bring it up in a private conversation away from other people so your protégé won’t feel embarrassed.
Mentoring someone in the workplace is a big responsibility, but it can benefit both parties. It can help your protégé learn new skills and advance in their career, while giving you an experienced sounding board who will be grateful for all of your advice. Just treat them with respect and do everything in your power to motivate them and promote their growth.
Thanks for reading!