What Makes a Good Mentor? Christine Macdonald explains…

Last month, LinkedIn announced the trialling of a mentoring scheme. It’s a response to the changing nature of the workplace, as it allows mentoring to take place online, anytime, anywhere.

Mentoring has been highly praised by plenty of big names in business. Many owe their success to their mentors. Mentoring is something that people are very keen on; 94% of employees said they would find a mentor beneficial to progress in their career. One of the specific requirements people want from mentors is somebody with plenty of knowledge within their industry.

 

When done well, mentoring schemes can be hugely successful for businesses. They can help with issues such as retention, employee engagement and training future leaders of the company.

 

However, the reason mentoring programmes often fail is that they are designed by those who have never been mentored. Mentoring programmes will inevitably vary from business to business, so a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be assumed. Feedback from both mentors and mentees is required to make the best possible programme, enhancing results and relationships.

 

Whilst many aspects are variable, you can’t have a successful mentoring programme without a good mentor. There are certain skills that a mentor needs in order to do their job effectively. A mentor should feel confident and happy to take on the role, which is why there are manager courses available for those about to become mentors or planning mentorship programmes. Want to know more? Here are some of the key necessities for being an effective mentor.

 

Commitment

 

A top mentor must be committed to their role and willing to help the mentee develop. It’s important to get to know the mentee and be available to organise one-on-ones to fit around both schedules. If a mentor isn’t committed from the outset, the partnership will not succeed and the mentee will not benefit from the relationship.

 

Role Model

 

Employees value a mentor who has lots of experience within their industry. Being a role model for a new employee is of key importance, as it can give them aspirations for how far they want to grow in the company.

 

Lead by example and show them how things are done. Share your achievements to inspire a mentee.

 

Giving Feedback

 

Feedback is also an important part of being a mentor. There are effective ways to give feedback and other ways which should be avoided. A good mentor will always be aware of how they give feedback and the right words to say. It can often be a delicate balance, but it’s a balance you have to find in order for the mentee to grow.

 

The last thing you want to do is shatter the confidence of the mentee. The term I like to use is being a ‘critical friend.’ This means giving constructive feedback for the person to develop.

 

Career Advice

 

Mentees are often young in their career, whilst a mentor is usually older and can offer career advice and guidance. A mentor should have a wide understanding of business and the industry that the mentee is working in. Creating a relationship where the mentor cares about the career development of the mentee is important.

 

Trustworthy and Honest

 

Being trustworthy and honest often go hand in hand. To get the most out of a mentor-mentee relationship, honesty is required on both sides. A good mentor should listen and give honest feedback about careers and their progression in the workplace. As well as being 100% honest, the conversation should remain private. A mentor must be trustworthy in order for the mentee to open up to you.

 

A mentoring program is an excellent way to develop employees and support new managers. The essential part is finding effective mentors who are enthusiastic about helping the development of others.


Christine Macdonald is an expert in learning and development and the director of The Hub Events. In 2018, she is starting a Skills of Mentoring programme to help businesses to develop mentoring programmes.

Author: Kate Thomas

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