December 10, 2020

10 Simple Hacks to Becoming an #InspiringMentor

10 Simple Hacks to Becoming an #InspiringMentor

I think it's fair to say that we could all use a little inspiration as 2020 comes to a close! And if you're lucky enough to mentor others (formally or informally), your mentee(s) may be looking to you for that nudge of inspiration. Try using these simple hacks to support your mentee going into the new year.

1. Be Credible and Positive

Mentees respect mentors who are credible (and positive) role models. Plus, they learn a lot just from observing how their mentor behaves in situations. Your experience, wisdom and actions will guide your mentee as much (or more) as anything you say. Also be aware of the energy you bring to your mentoring meetings. Your positivity will have a “ripple effect” on your mentee.

2. Show Interest in your Mentee

Mentoring is a social relationship. It often covers professional, as well as personal areas of a mentee’s life. By learning your mentee’s background, interests and dreams, you’ll have a better understanding of their personality and what kind of learning will serve them best in the long run.

3. Share Your Story

Describe your experiences (positive and negative) and how they affected you. Talk about what worked for you in the past and what didn’t. Be open about mistakes you’ve made in your professional life. Help your mentee see that learning from missteps can be one of the best ways to grow.

4. Check Your Biases and Impulses

You’re getting to know your mentee reasonably well. Avoid letting stereotypes distort your impressions along the way. Just like you, that person may be different from what’s on the surface.

5. Acknowledge Your Mentee’s Achievements

Acknowledging small wins propels your mentee’s development and fosters a stronger connection between the two of you. This simple act of noticing your mentees achievements early and often also builds the mentee’s confidence!

6. Be Present and Open

Be fully present during your meetings. Show up, engage, and participate. Avoid taking calls, checking texts, etc. Review your notes before meeting. At the end of the meeting, recap plans and action items for your next meeting.

7. Let Them Make Their Own Decisions

You possess all kinds of accumulated wisdom. It would be easy to simply tell your mentee what to do. Except it would deprive your mentee of thinking through challenges to derive their own solutions. And it wouldn’t allow them to learn by trial and error. Plus, you might not know the best course of action given their specific circumstances.

8. Listen. Then Ask Questions. Advise Last.

Active listening is a skill great mentors embrace! When talking with your mentee, ask open-ended questions to allow them to verbalize and fully think through their options. Hear what the mentee has to say before giving your opinion. Query them on their point of view. They bring insights and perspectives which you may not yet appreciate. When (and if) you provide advice, begin by asking permission and highlight the benefits of the information to your mentee.

9. Explore Growth Opportunities for Your Mentee

Point your mentee to reading materials, videos, or podcasts that may reinforce their learning goals. Suggest meetings, committees, or projects they might consider participating in. As appropriate, introduce them to others who have an area of expertise you cannot help them with.

10. Savor Time Together

The mentoring cycle will close in the blink of an eye. Joking, laughing, and not taking yourselves too seriously enhances the mentoring experience. Celebrate your success and growth along the journey.