We asked the professionals from our mentoring program what makes a good mentor. From having the relevant experience, asking the right questions and recognising the mentee’s strengths, to opening up and acknowledging the unique journey of the mentee. These are some of the traits that, according to Kristyna, Julia, Kvetka and Lucie, define a great career mentor.
A good mentor:
- leads by example
- listens closely to the mentee
- asks the relevant questions
- provides constructive feedback
- opens up and learns from the mentee
Kristýna Marková is the service design lead at Avast.
The quality of the mentor depends on numerous factors which influence the mentoring process. Relevant experience, willingness to share and invest in people, provide constructive feedback, and respect others. Those are some of the elements that form a good mentor and I’d expect them from the majority. Since I have completed mentoring myself, as a mentor and a mentee, I identified other traits that define the quality of a career mentor.
From my experience, I know that it is relatively easy to find someone who has the relevant experience and willingness to share. However, that is not enough. If the mentor doesn’t know how to listen, understand where you are coming from, what you have been through, and who you are - they will not be able to point you in the right direction. The art of listening, combined with empathy, is the key determinant of a professional mentor.
Mentoring is an investment in people. It is a long-distance journey with the circumstances and goals constantly changing. The ability to ask the right questions, at the right time is crucial when giving advice and responding to the challenges the mentee might be facing.
A mentor’s mission is to:
- understand where the mentee is coming from and who they are
- guide the mentee to discover their inner-self
- help the mentee make decisions based on their strengths and potential
Julia Christodoulou is a former CPO at OAK'S LAB, now on maternity leave.
To be a good mentor, in my opinion, you need to guide the mentee to discover their inner self, accept it, and get to know it, and that way, they will be able to make decisions that are based on their strengths, their potential and aren't influenced by others.
A good mentor leads by example and is self-aware, mindful, and non-judgemental of their past. So in my opinion, to become a good mentor you need to practice all of the above and use them to inspire the mentee. Being able to adapt to the changing world is also key and very important is the ability to open up and learn from your mentee as well.
Kvetka Gerslova is a digital marketing strategist.
For me being a good mentor means keeping in mind that each life story and career path is different and there are no general truths or only the right answers. I think it is important to listen closely to your mentee and ask a lot of questions to understand her motivation, values, and desires. It also means being open and honest when sharing your learnings as well as being supportive and encouraging of your mentee to believe in herself.
A career mentor should:
- have the relevant experience
- be willing to share and and invest in people
- respect for others and learn from them
Lucie Neumanova is the co-founder and CEO of Femme Palette.
Mentoring is a long-term relationship, so first and foremost, you have to build trust with your mentee to build the foundation for a successful mentoring relationship. The best way to start on his path is to get to know each other. During the first session with my mentees, I take time to learn both about their life and career aspirations, and simple things like what they do for fun. As we recommend at Femme Palette, I also do a values exercise, which helps mentees define their top-priority values, and allows me to learn what is important to them.
After this stage of getting to know each other, it’s important to then discuss the goals that you will help your mentees achieve by the end of a particular time period during the relationship. As a mentor, your role is to help your mentee define their goals in a way that feels achievable for you too. You don’t want to commit to unrealistic expectations. In many cases, your mentee might not have a clear idea of what her goals are. A good mentor should try to understand the motivation behind the mentee’s goals, in order to suggest more relevant, realistic, and specific alternatives.
Like any other successful relationship, communication is key, and this is also true for a mentoring relationship. I like to show my mentees that I am approachable and open to helping them whenever they may need it, by suggesting different communication channels for different purposes. We work together in a Google Doc that the FP team set up for us, where we track our agenda, our notes from each session, and next steps and action items. It makes it much easier for us to track progress towards goals.
As a mentor, I am there to guide people and be a sounding board for their ideas. It’s not my role to tell my mentees what they should do, but rather to share my own experiences and offer another point of view on how I might cope with their situations. My mentees can then choose how to act (or not act) upon this advice. Ultimately, a mentor’s role is just to provide more ideas and give an opinion. This makes mentees feel more empowered, so they take control over their decisions.
A mentor should be:
- open and honest
- supportive and encouraging
- self-aware, mindful, and non-judgemental
- able to adapt to the changing world
Those are the main take outs that, according to some of the professionals that are a part of our mentoring program, form a successful career mentor. As mentioned, everybody is different and there is no one model that fits all. However, you can never go wrong with openness, honesty and respect. And that doesn’t apply only to mentoring.
Interested in becoming a mentor but not sure if you have what it takes? Take our specially designed Mentor quiz to find out if you have it in you. It's quick and fun!