Most professionals do not deny that mentoring is an important leader ship competency and often a professional responsibility. Yet, most leaders, while well intentioned, are underprepared for the mentor role.
Leaders who make the time to prepare themselves to be mentors report increased self-awareness, confidence, and competence in the role, and save themselves time in the long run.
Mentors with the best attitude see the work as an opportunity to expand and deepen individual and organizational learning. They also see themselves as partners in the shared enterprise of professional development and personal growth of their people.
So what are some of the things that you can do to prepare your self for this very important role?
Consider your personal motivation. It has a direct impact on your behavior and attitude and on the quality of your mentoring interaction.
Clarify what you are looking for in a mentoring relationship. What is driving your decision to be a mentor?
Get comfortable with the mentoring skills you may need to draw on. The more comfortable we are with a skill, the more likely we are to use it. Certain skills are especially important:
- Coaching. Mentors often need to boost a mentees present performance to help them gain traction and momentum to realize their future goals.
- Facilitating. Mentors are in the business of facilitating learning. It is the means by which they encourage self-reflection and ownership. Knowing how and when to support and challenge a mentee can unlock the door to future potential.
- Goal setting. Well-defined goals steer the relationship and help it stay on course. Take time to collaboratively set goals and develop a work plan to achieve those goals.
- Feedback. Mentees rely on mentors for candid and direct feedback. As a mentor, you need to be good at modeling feedback, asking for it, giving it, and receiving it. It will help your mentee make steady progress in the right direction.
- Listening. Effective mentors are good listeners. It is the number one skill that mentees consistently say they value the most in a mentor. A mentor needs to be able to walk in a mentees shoes.
Identify a couple of stretch goals. No matter how many times you have been a mentor, you can always get better. Take the time to reflect on your skills and what you need to do to move from good to great. What is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?
Create a mentor development plan. Identify success criteria and set three milestones to gauge your progress as a mentor.
Self-preparation for mentorship is a great opportunity for leaders to not only become better mentors but to expand and deepen their own learning. What better time to begin than now?