Mentoring can be a transformative experience for everyone involved. But what makes a good mentor? While sharing your personal experience and guiding your mentee toward their goals is an essential part of being a mentor, it isn’t the be-all and end-all. Here are a few other key competencies to consider when deciding if becoming a mentor is right for you.
How are your active listening skills?
It’s one thing to hear what someone says, it’s another to understand the message that’s being conveyed. Active listening takes into account the entire situation—the words that are spoken as well as non-verbal cues such as body language. In order to do this, it is important to focus on the person speaking and acknowledge that you understand what they’re saying through small gestures such as eye contact or nodding. By actively listening to your mentee, you’ll show them that you’re engaged and care about what they’re saying. You’ll also get a better understanding of their needs, which will help guide your mentorship process.
Are you able to build trust with people?
Showing your mentee that you’re actively listening to what they’re saying helps establish a relationship of trust. Trust between a mentee and mentor is essential for real progress to be made. When a mentee trusts that you’re guiding them in the right direction and that you’ll keep anything they say confidential, they’ll open up to you. This makes it possible to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they’re facing and how you can best support them.
Are you good at giving and receiving feedback?
Feedback is a two-way street when it comes to mentoring. Mentors need to be able to provide constructive feedback in a way that will help their mentee continue to move forward without feeling discouraged. As a mentor, it’s also important that you are open to receiving and implementing feedback. Everyone learns differently and is motivated by different things so getting feedback from your mentee can help you understand what works best for them. As a mentor, it’s good to be proactive in requesting this kind of feedback from your mentee to make sure you’re on the right track and see if there are any adjustments that would help your mentee more.
Can you react and adapt quickly?
As with all things in life, it’s good to be flexible and ready to adapt when it comes to mentoring. Sometimes, mentees' goals change or something unexpected has come up that they want to discuss. As a mentor, you aren’t expected to have all of the answers, especially when it’s a topic you haven’t had time to think about or prepare for. However, reacting quickly shows your mentee that you understand, and adapting your approach to meet their needs at that moment in time will go a long way in establishing a solid relationship where your mentee knows they can trust and rely on your guidance.
Are you a good role model?
It may be strange to think of yourself as a role model, but as a mentor, you’re in a position where your mentee will look up to you. The way you act, the things you say, and what you do will all leave an impression. We’re all human so there’s no need to be perfect but you should show your mentee that you approach situations positively, are respectful and patient, and set a good example that will inspire them as they work toward their goals.
Mastery of these key competencies sets great mentors apart from the rest. Of course, there’s always room to learn and grow, but if you feel that you have a strong foundation in these core competencies, mentoring might be right for you! Would you make a good mentor? Take our quiz to find out or if you are ready, apply to mentor with us. Learn about our interviewing process here.