National Mentoring Month Logo - Start Mentoring Your Employees Today!It’s national mentoring month! Last week’s post covered why workplace mentoring is essential and this week we’ll share tips for how to mentor your employees.

You want to make the best possible use of your time and that of your “mentee,” and really help him or her develop professionally and personally—it will bolster your image as a valuable employee too.

Forbes staffer Jacquelyn Smith, in “How To Be A Great Mentor,” quotes William Arthur Ward, author of Fountains of Faith:

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

To be an excellent mentor is to inspire. Smith cites David Parnell, a legal consultant, communication coach and author, who says it’s an unwritten rule of mentoring that you should give back at least what you’ve received. So if you’ve had a mentor, consider taking on a mentee!

Seven Keys to Successful Mentoring

In another Forbes article, E. Wayne Hart, a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership and author of “Seven Keys to Successful Mentoring,”shares mentoring best practices in “What does it take to become an effective mentor? Here’s a brief look at seven key tasks for the mentor to perform”:

  1. Develop and manage the mentoring relationship.
    Initially, this involves accessing your own readiness and interest, selecting someone to mentor and getting to know each other. Over time, it means working to build trust, set goals and keep the mentoring relationship on track.
  2. Sponsor.
    Opening doors and advocating for your mentee can allow her to develop new skills and gain meaningful visibility. You can create and seek new opportunities for her and connect her with people in your network.
  3. Survey the environment.
    Mentors keep a watchful eye on the horizon, looking for both threatening organizational forces and positive opportunities. Things you want to be on the lookout for include rumors, people taking an adversarial position relative to the mentee, low-visibility or no-win assignments and opportunities for high-visibility or win-win assignments.
  4. Guide and counsel.
    You may serve as a confidant, sounding-board and personal advisor to your mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. You can add value to your mentee by helping him understand how the organization works and the best way to deal with problems, for example. You may also be in a position to warn a mentee about behavior that is a poor fit with organizational culture and how best to improve.
  5. Teach.
    Many mentors enjoy the teaching aspects of mentoring, which mean not only imparting their job and organization knowledge but also sharing their experiences and recommending assignments for a successful career path.
  6. Model.
    Just while observing you, mentees pick up many things: ethics, values and standards; style, beliefs and attitudes; methods and procedures. They are likely to follow your lead, adapt aspects of your approach to their own style, and build confidence through their affiliation with you. As a mentor, you need to be keenly aware of the impact of your own behavior.
  7. Motivate and inspire.
    Mentors support and encourage their mentees. When you help your mentees link their own goals, values and emotions to the larger organizational agenda, they become more engaged in their work and in their own development.  Mentorship builds commitment to the company community and motivates the entire workplace.

Each mentoring situation is different. Mentees may be at different stages in their careers, have different goals, and different skills. And it’s a shared job. The mentee needs to listen and take action based on your advice. You’ll benefit too. As the relationship deepens, chances are you’ll find it very rewarding professionally and personally.

It’s never been more important, according to Pamela Ryckman, author of Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business in Smith’s article.

Rykman advises:

  • Believe in your mentee personally and professionally.
  • See him or her mentee as a person, not just an employee.
  • Learn from your mentee!

“Mentoring really goes both ways; when different generations come together, their blend of skills can be highly complementary.”

Check in next week for trends in mentoring, and the following week for concrete examples of companies’ effecting mentoring programs. Make 2015 the year you start a mentoring program at your organization. Happy mentoring!

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