Anybody can become a great mentor. All it takes is a dedicated attitude towards doing one thing: helping someone with less experience gain more. It simply takes some time, some focus, and the right attitudes to make a marked difference in a colleague’s life.
Take mentoring seriously. Expect to do great things through the mentoring partnership. This takes commitment. Set up a time to meet regularly and make that time sacred. Follow-up faithfully on anything discussed in these meetings. Be available for your protégé to the best of your ability even if that means an occasional call at home or an extra meeting during a hard week.
Negotiate milestones with your protégé and work toward meeting them. Give “homework” that challenges your protégé to take a step toward greater competence each day and week. At each meeting create an assignment the protégé needs to perform before the next meeting and make him accountable to you for completing it. A great mentor teaches his protégé how to set goals. Effective mentoring will have a concrete end goal. Make sure the larger goal remains in focus. The mentor’s experience and knowledge comes from his history. However, the focus should be on the future and the future accomplishments of the protégé. Set goals that reach out into that future.
A great mentor will allow his protégé some room to develop his own style. A protégé is not your clone. He is someone who can take the lessons of your experience and put his own spin on it. Sometimes you may even disagree. Such disagreement can serve as a learning opportunity for the protégé and perhaps even the mentor. A great mentor will be compassionate even during these times. Patience is another gift the great mentor brings to table. Listening non-judgmentally can bring trust to the relationship.
Have you own guides
As a mentor you well know that you are not the cartoon guru who sits at the top of the mountain handing out sage advice. Instead, you are climbing toward the top the same as your protégé. The important difference that makes you the mentor is you are higher up on the side of the mountain. Even so, you need to keep learning yourself. Lifelong learning is essential for success in this ever changing world. Having your own mentor is a great idea. Keeping up with the latest technology, industry practices, company policies and so many other things will make you an even more valuable guide to your protégé. Join professional organisations and take classes. Not only does your continued growth provide information and perspective to your protégé, but the example of lifelong learning that you show him is itself a teaching tool. You teach that growth is a constant goal.
Your willingness to use your valuable time to be a mentor already shows that you are a generous person. Be sure to extend that generosity. Dig into your contact files and share the names and numbers of people who can help your protégé. If possible, allow him to tag along when you attend meeting or meet with clients. After agreeing to confidentiality, share some of your secret methods if you have any. Give whatever you can to bring this employee to a place where his competency matures.