“Who are you to write about mentoring others?”
As our own toughest critics, it’s normal to experience self-doubt and ask these types of questions. The truth is, there is no explicit set of criteria to qualify someone as a mentor, I just know I am passionate about mentoring.
I know that I enjoy helping others realize their own goals while uncovering new ways to achieve them. Because I’ve been fortunate enough to have been guided by others, offering advice (the good, bad, and hard to hear), providing valuable insights and setting me up with opportunities to grow in my career, I jump in when I get the chance to pay it forward.
And if I can inspire just one other person to give back on their end, well, that one link can create an entirely new chain of multigenerational mentorship.
If you haven’t seen, we have previous posts exploring mentorship in celebration of National Mentoring Month 2022, and if not, you can find them here:
- How to Incorporate Mentorship Programs in the Workplace
- National Mentoring Month 2022: The Importance of Mentorship
Keep reading to learn more about the 3 A’s of mentorship…
Active listening is a necessary, foundational approach to creating strong mentor/mentee relationships. Active listening is an acquired skill that involves the following:
When someone stops talking it can mean several things. Sometimes it means they’re thinking about what to say next, reflecting on what they have previously said, or they are simply distracted. A good mentor stops talking when they are engaged in active listening. All of their attention is on what their mentee(s) is about to say, and they are waiting to respond by drawing on their depth of knowledge and experience.
Guide the Conversation
A good professional mentor guides the conversation as if sailing a boat. You want to try to avoid close ended questions and instead make room for an open discussion. It’s not the mentees job to offer advice and solutions, so work to help clear their path for self-discovery.
Pay Attention/Provide Feedback
A professional mentor should always utilize Active Listening in sessions. Your mentee needs to know that you are listening and that you understand them. When your mentee has finished speaking, you should sum up what they have said to reassure you you correctly understood. Quality feedback follows this close attention.
A good mentor makes themselves available in several ways.
This goes without saying, but mentors always show up for their mentees – in a formal setting or not. The time you invest in your mentee(s) should be focused on you providing your full concentration for the duration of the session. This is their time and chance to pick your brain and learn from your experiences and success.
While you’re not expected to be a shoulder to cry on, you do want to show that your mentees that you’re emotionally present in the room. By utilizing active listening techniques, you demonstrate that you care about their development and overall success. The body language and professional conduct you use will effectively communicate your emotional availability.
Mentoring sessions are extremely valuable and you want your mentees to take away something positive from each interaction. That’s why you should always strive to answer your mentees questions and concerns honestly and with diplomacy. In other words, avoid beating around the bush. While it may feel uncomfortable at times, it is shown to be most effective.
While a good mentor is usually expected to have a wide range of experience, up to date awareness is just as important. Before taking on someone under your wing, ensure that you are aware of the concerns and issues facing your potential mentees today. In order to be an effective mentor, you must keep up to date on any outside changes and modify your philosophy and analysis based on changing data.
One key component of a strong mentor/mentee relationship is objectivity and fairness. As a mentor, you should aim to take your mentees out of their own world to help them see new perspectives, even if those are uncomfortable at first. Encouraging them to see their paths in new ways is why you establish a mentor-mentee relationship.
Some things are fundamental to mentorship, and the A’s are three of those things. Active listening, availability, and analysis are important behaviors to practice as an effective mentor. As companies continue to look for ways to engage, retain top talent and promote a supportive workplace culture, mentoring is one of the strategies to lean into. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Find some of our other leadership resources here:
“Employer of the Year”- It’s Almost the End!
Our company MCDA CCG, Inc. was named by the Orange County Business Journal as a 2021 Companies That Care Honoree for Employer of the Year. In a time of severe staffing shortages driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, we are extremely honored to be recognized particularly in this category. If you have a few seconds to spare, we ask that you please click the survey link and cast in your vote for MCDA CCG as Employer of the Year.
VOTING ENDS THIS MONDAY, so please vote if you haven’t already!
Survey link: Excellence In Placentia 2022
Follow us on Instagram to see who wins! @mcdaccginc