Being a mentor is a practiced and educated art form. So many times we think that mentoring is imparting our knowledge, sharing how we have performed a task or completed a project. Mentoring is really guiding, allowing your mentee the ability to discover more about themselves, the process they have undertaken and the path and skills they need to develop to complete and create a final product.
The following skills can help you create successful mentoring experience.
1) Practice ego diminishment. The experience isn’t about showing how smart you are or how much you have accomplished. It is about allowing someone to blossom and grow with your gentle tending. Being overly boasting can be intimidating to someone who has not accomplished much yet and will severely limit your ability to have a mutually rewarding experience.
2) Pay undivided attention when your mentee is speaking to you. Let them finish what they are saying without interrupting and negating, hear what they are trying to communicate. Really listen to what they are saying – not what you think they are saying. Ask questions to clarify understanding.
3) Find the most positive way to say something negative. Positive reinforcement is very important in helping to build confidence. As important as is positive reinforcement, constructive criticism is also vital to a successful mentoring experience. Offer positive feedback on what worked and then offer suggestions on how to try some different way of heading towards the goal. Again, avoid using the words I or me to explain.
4) Being successful at accomplishing the project is only one aspect of the process. Sometimes, failure is the best and only way to learn how not to do something. While it will be difficult to not step in and fix everything, many of us will agree that some of the best lessons we learn are through failing.
5) Explain the big picture. By sharing the overall project, you make the mentee feel part of the effort. Being a team player will create a sense of belonging and increased self-confidence and self-worth that comes from understanding how their participation is an integral part of the process.
6) Be absolutely open to and even encourage hearing feedback. Participate in an honest dialogue about the pros and cons of the experience for both. Keep your feelings out of the conversation and receive feedback with an openness towards learning. You will be amazed at how much you can receive if you are willing to listen without judgement. It is hard to do, but the rewards are plentiful.
Mentoring is a huge gift you give yourself. Even more so if you are able to guide and encourage someone to step outside of themselves and try something different and new.