Our team has been focused on mentoring in practice for well over 2 decades.  Having lived experiences as both a mentor and a mentee, you will find that this tips surface over time.  It is important to know and spot them before they have a chance to impact your mentoring experience!

What is mentoring?

Before we can effectively look at the benefits you can derive from mentoring programs, it is first essential to understand what mentoring really is. Mentoring is simply the process wherein people are helped by a person or an organization for their personal and professional development. The person who is doing the supporting role is called the “mentor” while the person being supported is called the “mentee”. This relationship may sometimes because complex because there are many types of mentors, just as there is many types of people.

You can expect the mentor to be somewhere between being a “trusted friend” and a “counselor”. But how exactly, can a mentor be defined? Well, we came up with several categories; your mentor will most likely fall into one of these categories. Read on to know what kind of mentor you should choose and which ones you should avoid:

1. The crowding mentor

This is the type of mentor who seems to be ignorant of the term, “personal space”. This mentor may not necessarily be your choice but he or she was assigned to you by your organization.  Organization-driven mentoring engagements can be especially challenging because you may have someone thrust upon you that is not by choice or by a proper match to your needs and personality.

2. The impossible mentor

Meanwhile, the impossible mentor is simply someone who you are not comfortable being with no matter what you do or what the mentor does. This happens more than you can imagine as people are just lumped into a mentoring program simply because of time in the job or the title they have.

3. The younger mentor

In some cases, you might encounter a mentor who is younger than you. You might be more experienced than he is on work-related matters but this mentor was assigned to help you nonetheless. You find it difficult to take such a young mentor seriously though. This is not always a problem, but is often raised as an issue when assessing the success of a mentoring engagement.

4. The ardent researcher

Your mentor would be someone who puts a big emphasis on academic research and theories. While this characteristic may not be a fault in itself, you might discover that it is hard to schedule important meetings with this mentor because they always put research as their priority. In addition, this type of mentor might not believe that teaching the mentee is important so you are low in his priority. Data is good, but only when the mentor relationship is the priority and data is the bonus outcome.

What does a mentor actually do?

So after you know the type of mentors you should avoid, it is time to take a deeper look at what a good mentor should actually do:

  • Be available for a chat over the telephone or face-to-face contact
  • Be optimistic about the mentoring program and the development process of the mentees
  • Help mentees feel good about their achievements
  • Help mentees stick to deadlines and schedules
  • Know someone who can aid their mentees when there are cases that they can’t
  • Aid the mentees in their work plan. For example, they should help the mentees write realistic goals, deadlines, and the strategy on how these can be achieved.
  • Give feedback on the work. They should give their opinions about the menteeís performance so that the mentee will know which areas they should improve on.
  • Help the mentees look at the feedback of other people. The mentees should take a serious look at the opinions of other people so they can determine their weaknesses.
  • Make learning possible for the mentees. The mentors should provide the necessary resources such as time, effort, and space so that their mentees can learn even during their day-to-day work.
  • Motivate their mentees. The simply act of asking how a person is doing is an act of asking how a person is doing can be motivation for them to improve their performance.

RapidMatter participants have learned this both as mentors and mentees.  Hopefully you can use this as a quick guide to make sure that you aren’t getting wrapped up into a mentoring relationship that will make you think mentoring is a failure.

Good mentoring is about finding the best match and working from there.