Useful Methods on Being a Great and Effective Mentor

No successful working professional today wouldn’t be where they are without the guidance and training of teachers and mentors. These people are responsible for teaching individuals the tricks of the trade in any business or industry, and as such, they are considered as valuable cornerstones of society for their contributions to sustaining human progress. Many prosperous individuals from various fields started out as protégées who frequently cite their instructors as the key figures that shaped their work ethics and the direction of their careers. When you think about it, there may come a point in your life—whether personal or professional—that you may take up a mentorship role to help mould an eager achiever looking to make it big as an industry power player.

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Whether people want to admit it or not, the desire to become powerful and successful is something that drives a person to become the best at life. The only way they can make their aspirations become a tangible reality is to seek guidance from a person who has acquired enough experience to know the right things to do and the wrong things to avoid when climbing the career ladder filled with obstacles. However, you should be aware of the fact that just because you have the experience doesn’t automatically mean that you’re well-equipped to be a mentor for someone looking for help. There are several other factors at play that you need to consider before taking up this serious responsibility. Look to these helpful pieces of advice to help you become a great and effective mentor.

Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

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Nobody is perfect, and as such, you must confront yourself first by determining your core assets and inherent shortcomings as an individual. Your protégée will respect you more if you’re able to show that you have flaws just as much as everyone else in life. It’s important for you to be candid about this subject since it eliminates the preconceived notions that an apprentice might have of you as a professional. Your student must be able to see through the veneer of success and see the real person underneath posessing both positive and negative attributes. This will also give them the encouraging impression that achieving success is about knowing what works for you and what you need to do in order to ensure that potential challenges will not hinder your progress.

Set realistic expectations

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It’s a smart strategy to have an in-depth conversation with your protégée at the onset of his or her mentorship to determine the expectations that both of you have with regards to the arrangement. Think of this as an opportunity to establish a steady working relationship since you’re going to be taking someone under your wing. Drive the discussion by allowing your student to express his or her thoughts about what they hope to learn from you and what they are able to bring to the table. Hearing their opinions will give you insight as to how you should steer them in the right direction and see whether you need to have a hands-on approach or allow them to work independently with minimal but detailed supervision. Always remember that this is a team effort, so you should always be receptive when it comes to dealing with your apprentice.

Always be prepared

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Apprentices always ask questions and you need to be sufficiently prepared to answer their queries at all times, particularly if they approach you with a problem wherein you know the solution. The mentor-student relationship is always an ongoing process once it starts, so you have countless opportunities to impart valuable lessons whenever your trainee looks to you for advice or other crucial matters pertaining to the work they are doing. Being prepared also means anticipating potential needs, so take proactive measures by having useful resource materials on hand such as annotated manuals or guidebooks so your student can use them as references to make their jobs easier to manage. Giving your trainee such handy guides will also aid them in the event that you’re unavailable to help them in person due to managing your own work priorities.

Communicate properly

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The best way to avoid misunderstandings between you and your student is to make sure that you are able to relay the information in a clear and detailed manner. It’s never a good idea to be vague with your instructions since this will likely result in your apprentice making a mistake. This is a situation that will also put you in hot water since you’re directly responsible for showing your trainee the correct standard operating procedures at work. Any mistake your student makes is a direct reflection of your mentoring skills. Don’t leave anything to chance and make it a point to always communicate with your apprentice whenever you’re discussing something important at work. Don’t be afraid to confront your student if your intuition tells you that he or she hasn’t fully understood your instructions.

Learn to be more empathetic

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A common mistake that most mentors make is that they often forget that they also started out in the shoes of their protégée long ago. When mentors get frustrated with poor results from their trainees, they sometimes lash out in anger and berate their students in the process, which is considered as counterintuitive to their progress. Thus, it’s highly imperative that you must always come across as a friendly and approachable individual that people can come to with relative comfort when they need your advice or consultation. Projecting an aura of imperiousness and self-importance will only serve to drive away those who wanted your help in the first place. Demonstrating empathy is a perfect way to let your apprentice know that you value and respect their company, and that you can deeply relate to the struggles they are going through during their training.

Pass judgment objectively

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As you are slowly getting to know your apprentice over time, you’ll be able to get a good grasp on how he or she is able to perform as an individual, along with his or her respective skill sets that need to be nurtured and improved. As much as possible, your criticisms must always be constructive and objective so that you’ll be able to impart a fair assessment towards your protégée. It’s important that you shouldn’t sugarcoat your words because it’ll help them develop a tougher skin since they’ll be facing plenty of harsh appraisals and negativity throughout the course of their career. Your job as a mentor is not to soften the blow, but to teach them the ways of utilizing criticisms—both positive and negative—as fuel to make them work harder and produce results which prove that they’ve learned from their mistakes and that they have the capacity to listen and take criticism well from others.

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