Advice for Mentors

7 Mistakes Even Good Mentors Make During the Mentorship Process

Mentorship is a critical catalyst for professional growth. Yet, do seasoned experts get it right every single time?

This article throws a spotlight on an often-unexplored aspect: the subtle missteps even well-intentioned, expert mentors may inadvertently make, and how to circumvent them to deliver truly impactful mentorship.

Misstep 1: Over-emphasising Directive Guidance

Even the most seasoned mentors may over-emphasise directive guidance out of a genuine desire to help their mentees avoid mistakes and succeed. However, step-by-step instructions and outlining every detail could foster an unhealthy dependency, and lead to micromanagement, mentee demotivation, curbing productivity, and impeding their capacity to independently tackle complex situations.

Instead, ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you think would be the best course of action?” or “What options have you considered?”. Encouraging mentee autonomy and decision making can foster significant benefits:

  • instils a sense of responsibility and engagement
  • empowers mentees to learn from both their successes and failures
  • fosters self-reliance
  • improves confidence and enhances decision-making skills.

Tip: Shift from a directive to a facilitative approach, prioritising mentee autonomy and decision making to promote personal and professional growth.

Misstep 2: Undervaluing Proper Mentor Training

Despite their field expertise, even accomplished mentors may undervalue the importance of proper mentor training. This misconception can stem from the idea that professional prowess is enough to mentor others effectively — which is not always the case. Being a mentor requires not just knowledge, but also communication skills, empathy, and patience.

Insufficient mentor training can lead to a mentor struggling to establish a constructive learning environment, failing to set clear expectations, or imposing their own goals onto the mentee. Such issues can confuse and decrease motivation.

Tip: Invest in comprehensive mentor training, focusing on effective communication, goal setting, feedback provision, and conflict resolution. Emphasising emotional intelligence in training will also greatly enhance the mentorship experience.

Misstep 3: Adopting a One-size-fits-all Approach

Driven by a desire for efficiency or a belief in a universally successful mentoring style, mentors may apply a generic methodology to all mentees. However, given the diversity in individual strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, and learning styles, a uniform approach may overlook each mentee’s unique needs, leading to a disconnect that can stifle their potential.

By personalising the mentorship approach to meet individual needs, mentors can significantly enhance engagement and commitment. This tailored approach allows the mentee’s unique strengths to flourish while addressing their specific weaknesses, cultivating a more enriching mentorship experience.

Tip: Personalise your mentorship approach to meet individual needs and respect unique learning styles, building a stronger mentor-mentee relationship.

Misstep 4: Communicating Ineffectively

Mentors, with their wealth of experience, can occasionally dominate conversations, forgetting that effective communication is a two-way street. This deprives the mentee of opportunities to express thoughts, share concerns, or contribute ideas.

Usual communication mistakes mentors make include:

  • Assume understanding. Mentors may unintentionally use industry jargon or complex concepts without checking if the mentee fully understands them, leading to confusion and potential discouragement.
  • Neglect non-verbal cues. Non-verbal signals such as gestures, tone, and body language often provide critical insights into a mentee’s comfort level and comprehension. Ignoring these cues can result in miscommunication and missed opportunities to address a mentee’s concerns.
  • Underestimate the importance of active listening. Active listening involves attentively hearing and thoughtfully responding to a mentee’s thoughts or concerns. Failure to actively listen can make a mentee feel unheard or undervalued.

Tip: Encourage open communication, observe non-verbal cues, simplify complex terms, and actively listen to create an environment that promotes learning and mutual respect.

Misstep 5: Overfocusing on Short-term Goals

Focusing excessively on short-term goals may lead to a myopic view of professional development, potentially neglecting the mentee’s broader career aspirations. 

Overemphasis can limit the mentee’s skills to immediate tasks and goals, hindering the development of strategic thinking and forward-planning abilities that are essential for leadership roles.

Tip: Incorporate a mix of short-term and long-term goals into the mentorship plan to ensure a well-rounded professional development journey that prepares the mentee for future challenges and opportunities.

Misstep 6: Neglecting Work-Life Balance

Even seasoned mentors, driven by a profound commitment to nurturing professional growth, can overlook the crucial factor of work-life balance in their mentorship process. 

Their rich experience and dedication to sharing knowledge can inadvertently lead to pushing mentees to work beyond healthy limits — potentially blurring the boundary between professional development and personal well-being. 

This misstep is often unintentional, a result of the mentors’ own work habits, multiple responsibilities, or an earnest desire to accelerate the mentee’s progress.

Tip: Use a rota system to maintain regular engagement, manage work hours, and prevent mentee burnout. Always ensure this system respects the individual needs and schedules of your mentees to ensure a healthier, more productive mentorship experience.

Misstep 7: Avoiding Difficult Conversations

The final misstep that even proficient mentors can make is the avoidance of difficult conversations out of a desire to maintain harmony and positive interaction. However, avoiding difficult conversations can lead to unaddressed issues and limit the effectiveness of the mentorship process.

These can involve delivering negative feedback or discussing uncomfortable topics. Despite being challenging, such conversations are integral to the mentorship process, as they foster growth, improve performance, and build resilience.

Avoiding difficult conversations can lead to:

  • unaddressed issues, stifling the mentee’s development and potentially impacting their professional performance
  • resentment 
  • miscommunication
  • limited effectiveness of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Tip: View difficult conversations as opportunities for growth and ensure these conversations are handled sensitively to motivate mentees to improve and foster resilience.

Refining Our Approach to Mentorship

Navigating the fine nuances of mentorship, while challenging, can unlock profound growth for both mentor and mentee. It requires us to reflect on our practices, question our assumptions, and continually evolve to meet our mentee’s unique needs.

How will you ensure your expertise and experience uplift (rather than unintentionally overshadow) your mentee’s path?

Rob is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.

Advice for Mentors

15 Essential Mentoring Skills You Need For Gold Standard Mentoring

Picture an amazing mentor you’ve had in your life. Whether it’s a teacher, colleague or peer, an incredible mentor improves your performance and provides opportunities for learning and growth.

So when you get the opportunity to mentor someone else, it not only validates you as a professional but is a fantastic opportunity to nurture someone else’s growth. Did you know, 89% of those who have been mentored will go on to mentor someone else?

But to do mentorship right, you need to foster the right mentoring skills. 

In this post, we list the 15 most critical mentorship skills you need. This list is not exhaustive but serves as a guide for mentors and program leads in what mentorship skills you need to cultivate. 

What are mentoring skills?

Mentoring skills refer to the abilities needed to guide someone’s personal or professional development. These mentorship skills may include active listening, providing constructive feedback, and offering guidance.

Mentoring skills help individuals develop their professional skills and achieve their goals. They create the right environment for growth such as fostering psychological safety and trust

Effective mentors provide guidance, support, and feedback to their mentees. This helps mentees navigate challenges and make progress in their careers. Which is why 97% of people with a mentor say that it’s valuable

How do you improve mentoring skills?

Individuals and organisations can foster essential mentorship skills in a number of ways:

  • Mentor training: With mentoring software like Guider, we provide training to mentors joining a program and supportive materials throughout the program. This teaches essential mentoring skills while participating in mentoring.
  • Self-reflection: If mentoring training isn’t offered through your mentorship program, you can learn essential skills by taking the time to reflect on what you’re good at and what you can work on. From there, you can focus on seeking ways to practice essential skills in your day to day life.
  • Self-directed learning: This could come in the form of seeking out online materials, talking to others or engaging with learning apps that develop skills. It’s a key part of your continuous learning. 

And it’s worth it too given that mentors are 6 times more likely to receive a promotion. It’s worth investing time and energy into developing mentorship skills for you and your team.

15 example mentoring skills you need to cultivate

Let’s take a look at the core mentorship skills that are needed for successful mentoring:

1. Active listening

Active listening goes beyond just listening to respond, it’s listening with the intent to understand. 

This may sound simple, but it takes practice to really get good at. It means you are showing that you’re listening through body language, the questions you ask and the responses you give.

To stand out as an amazing mentor, you need to actively listen to your mentee’s problems and take an interest in their life. It’ll help you understand them as a person and build trust so you can provide better support.

2. Empathy

Empathy is one of the top mentoring skills. It means that you are emotionally open to your mentee and able to try to understand how they are feeling. 

As EY’s Kim Billeter writes, “Empathy is a powerful force that must be embedded organically into every aspect of an organisation, otherwise the inconsistency has a dramatic impact on the overall culture and authenticity of an organisation.”

To build a strong relationship with your mentee, you need to understand how your mentee feels. Why? Because you can then provide them with the appropriate support for their needs. 

3. Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback well is another essential mentoring skill. But remember, not all feedback is helpful feedback.

The best feedback is constructive, timely and actionable. Make sure you give feedback in a respectful and non-judgmental manner, sticking to actions and results, not emotions or personal comments. 

Brené Brown writes: “When we avoid stating the truth—when we are vague or ambiguous under the guise of being kind—it is often because we are trying to lessen the discomfort for ourselves, not for the other person.”

So remember, giving feedback is essential for growth and even if it’s difficult, done well, it can be transformative.

4. Goal-setting

Setting goals and expectations is an important first step when mentoring. Agree clear, actionable and achievable goals to guide your mentoring sessions.

Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Remember to develop a plan with your mentee to help achieve those goals. Work with your mentee to break down these goals into more achievable milestones. And celebrate these milestones as you go – this is fantastic for keeping momentum in mentoring

5. Communication

Having good communication is vital mentoring skill. Want to build a strong relationship with your mentee? Listen, ask open questions and clarify information.

Good communication creates a safe environment. An environment where your mentee can share personal opinions and problems and trust the you will be open to them. It encompasses active listening and giving good feedback too. 

6. Coaching

Help your mentee develop specific skills and knowledge by adopting a coaching mindset as a mentee. 

While there are of course professional coaches, it’s important to think about how you can practice coaching skills in your mentoring sessions.

Sir John Whitmore states, “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

Challenge your mentee to think critically and creatively and encourage them to find their strengths. These coaching practices will help you unlock your mentee’s potential. 

7. Collaboration

You are responsible for guiding and advising a mentee, but this doesn’t mean you will be solely telling them what to do. Mentoring is a collaborative process. 

By working collaboratively with your mentee, you can empower them with the skills they need to work with others and achieve their goals. It’s a joint effort in which both parties will learn from one another.

8. Time management

Excellent time management skills help you stay organised and focused on the goals at hand. And the best part is good time management even improves job satisfaction.

In a study, individuals with better time management skills were less stressed and they were more likely to achieve their goals. 

Using your time management skills, keep your sessions on track. And take the time to impart this skill on your mentee. You will help them balance their workload and improve their performance, as well as leading to job satisfaction.

9. Adaptability

Adaptability ties in with active listening. Listen carefully to your mentee’s problems and adapt your mentoring to suit their unique needs.

Why? Because every mentee learns differently. And everyone’s priorities differ.

By listening and adjusting your technique to the person in front of you, you can help them develop. A mentorship in which one party is inflexible is much more likely to fail. 

10. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is essential for mentors. It helps you understand and handle both your own and your mentees’ emotions.

This improves communication, trust building, and personal and professional growth. Learn to understand both your own and your mentee’s emotions through self-reflection and awareness. 

11. Check your biases

We live in a world with huge diversity and our workplaces are no different. But you need to understand and navigate differences during mentoring without being clouded by your own unconscious bias.

So take the time to do the work and understand where your bias lie. Creating an inclusive workplace takes effort but it’s worth it. When people feel included, satisfaction, performance and profits increase

Ultimately, make sure you’re not making assumptions, but asking questions and listening to your mentees ideas and experiences. 

12. Networking

Help your mentee build relationships and connect with others in their industry through your network and by building their own. Your mentee will benefit from your industry connections as well as guidance navigating meeting new people. 

Remember, not everyone is taught how to network or understands its importance. By utilising your own networking skills you can go a long way to helping your mentee to grow.

13. Motivation

According to a 2020 study, motivation is critical in mentoring relationships. Motivated mentees saw more positive outcomes from the sessions. But that’s not all, the improved motivation also meant greater career success. 

So, it’s important to learn how to motivate your mentee. Learning about what inspires them and what they value is a good place to start. Motivation will improve your mentee’s confidence and lead to enhanced performance.

14. Self-reflection

Do you want to improve your mentoring practice? Self-reflection is one of the most critical mentoring skills.

Self-reflection helps you understand your strengths and areas for growth. Likewise, self-reflection helps your mentee develop a strategy to overcome potential obstacles.

Self-reflection is a critical part of mentoring. In a 2013 study, self-reflective mentees experienced better personal and professional growth. And here’s the interesting part, they also developed stronger relationships with their mentors.   

15. Professionalism is key

While it’s important to build rapport with your mentee, maintaining professionalism is key as you are acting as a role model.

Make sure you maintain professional boundaries, and set a good example of how to behave and navigate the workplace. Even if you and your mentee become friends, don’t let that get in the way of staying positive and professional.

There we have it: the essential mentoring skills you need to foster. Using these mentoring skills, you can leverage the power of mentoring for knowledge sharing, continuous learning and professional growth. 

Thinking about setting up a mentoring or coaching program? We’re here to help! Talk to one of our expert team today and get going with Guider.

Advice for Mentors

The Keys to a Good Mentoring Relationship

With National Mentoring Day 2022 on the horizon, we want to celebrate mentoring and all the people that make it such an effective tool for learning and personal development.

But how do mentors and mentees ensure that they get the most out of mentoring and make sure they hit their goals?

Let’s explore the ways in which you can create a good mentoring relationship…

The desire to grow

Mentoring is a powerful part of personal development. You might find yourself stuck in a rut, not sure where you want to take your career, or maybe you have a clear goal but you don’t know how to get there.

Mentoring is the opportunity to learn from a more experienced individual and gives you new insights into personal development. It’s not just about wanting to grow, it’s about taking action.

By actively seeking information about mentoring you’ve already taken the first step in taking personal responsibility in your personal development! It’s also a fantastic way to foster continuous learning, a lifelong habit that’s essential to build.

Before your first mentoring session, think about your goals and previous experiences. What do you want to achieve from your mentoring relationship? What are your goals for the future? Show that you’re curious and willing to learn.

And if you’re a mentor, science shows that we feel better about ourselves and more energetic when we help people, and when we feel good, good feelings spread.‍

📖 Find out more about what a mentor is and their purpose in our guide 📖

The desire to inspire others

A mentor is a trusted individual who through years of experience has gained access to knowledge and experiences that the mentee doesn’t. And with that, a unique point of view. Whether its confidence in meetings, organisation skills, or growth within a company, you’ve reached a goal the mentee wants to achieve.

One great way to do this is to learn about the mentee and see if you can relate to their experiences, through this connection you can inspire. Evidence shows that those who are inspired are more receptive to new experiences and become more motivated.

Through mentoring you’ll teach by example and develop empathy and understanding for different points of view. Help the mentee craft a clearer path towards personal development.

Check out our guide to being a good mentee and good mentor

Get to know each other

You might feel that you have a limited amount of time and will want to get straight to business, but learning about each other is an important part of developing a strong mentoring relationship.

While it’s important to have an effective matching system, mentoring is about the people involved, so will still require active relationship nurturing. A great way to do this is through finding common experiences, aspirations and interests. This makes it easier to understand the other person and where the mentees issues lie, but also how to best help the mentee from your own experience. It also creates moments for the mentee and mentor to joke and bond.

Some people have found mentoring as a great way to connect with other employees, especially due to remote work, so be open to being honest and sharing opinions. It’s through these open discussions that you best learn about another person. Through constant communication, mentoring acts as a way to improve your communication skills.

A black woman in an orange shirt stands next to an asian man on his laptop mentoring him.

Active listening

Active listening is an important part of mentoring and communication in general.

Active listening is when you listen to understand before responding, as opposed to listening just to respond. If you have something that you really, really want to say feel free to jot it down and bring up the point a little after.

Verbally reflect on what the other person has said not only to show that you’re listening, but as a way to reinforce what you’ve picked up from the conversation. And if you need clarification, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s important you both understand each other especially when it comes to goal setting to ensure that the target and path is clear.

Note for mentees: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and contribute your own thoughts. Everyone has their own experiences and holds unique points of view. Your mentor can’t cover everything so questions are the best way to get an answer. Having a back and forth feeds into creativity and inspires new ways of thinking and reflection.‍

Time investment and commitment

An important aspect of developing a strong mentoring relationship is by understanding that you’re both busy people, so try to schedule ahead. Iron out which times work for you and be honest. Maybe you’re not a morning person, or maybe you get tired late into the afternoon. Consider how often you’ll meet and what you’ll discuss during the next session.

Some people want more contact than others, but it’s important that both the mentor and mentee put time aside to ensure regular meetings, and try to give as much notice as possible for cancelations.

Celebrate success!

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate success. Positive feedback is useful for both the mentor and mentee and reinforces what was learnt.

Through celebrating success, the mentee becomes more engaged and finds their self esteem boosted. In turn, they find more meaning in their job and become more motivated to continue on the path of self improvement.

Mentoring is about learning, development and future growth so make sure to celebrate the small and big milestones.

Effective communication is a key aspect of developing a successful mentoring relationship. Some things might be obvious, but when you’re worried about career goals or current deadlines, it’s easy to forget.

It’s good to be able to discuss this with someone you relate to and someone who understands you. By putting in the time and effort to learn about the other person and by going into mentoring with goals and drive, you’ll create a strong mentoring relationship.

Read our tips on How To Be a Good Mentee, How To Be A Good Mentor, and How To Start A Mentoring Program

Advice for Mentors

The Best Communication Techniques for Mentors

Mentoring can be seen as one the most valuable ways to develop your employees.

Having training and mentoring programs can efficiently help those looking to grow themselves. Mentoring can equip mentees with the skills and tools they need survive in the business realm.

It can be for something as small as learning a new skill, to striving for a brand-new career.

Good communication between a mentor and their mentee can build a powerful relationship and characters. And these can be used in situations beyond the everyday workplace.

Why should you have good communication with your mentee?

One of the biggest advantages of having good communication with your mentee is that you’ll be able to enhance them to the best of their ability –avoiding misinterpretation or uncertainty.

Through effective communication, mentors can present work methods clearly to help their mentee towards their goals. Whether these are for daily occurrences or for long-term benefits, mentees can gain clear information on their personal development.

The information provided should allow mentees to reflect their new skills whilst eliminating any sources of confusion. And effective communication can help avoid stressful situations in the workplace.

The main steps for building good communication with mentees are:

  1. Focus on their goals for the mentoring or training program.
  2. Keep a steady pace towards achieving the goals (for short and long-term).
  3. Maintain contact with mentees on a regular schedule.

Elements for creating good communication with your mentee

Some of the most effective methods for communication is to keep regular contact between mentor and mentee.

Communication methods don’t have to be long and intensive. Even a 10 minute daily chat can prove to be helpful for some people. Mentors can stick to means of communication like email, phone-calls, or online/ offline meetings. You can set expectations of how and when you’re happy to communicate with your mentee during your first session.

As remote working becomes more mainstream, communication has become especially important. for developing personal goals and targets. The tailored support that mentors provide can help enhance mentees far more than normal training.

Self-assessments allow mentees to fully understand and incorporate changes to their work practises. By acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses, mentors can develop strategies for helping mentees achieve what they want. Then a final run-through is conducted to see their improvement in real-time.

Different examples of communication techniques

Some of the most effective means of communication come through oral methods. Like phone-calls, face-to-face meetings, and video conferences.

Other examples of communication techniques can include written means, like emails, letters, and social media posts.

It’s important to choose the right format for communicating with mentees. Different scenarios will call for different types of communication. Choosing the right one will increase the level of impact.

For example, for personal development plans, you should use written forms of communication rather than through phone-calls. Mentees will be able to fully grasp the concept; and avoid writing extensive notes whilst trying to listen.

It’s always best to provide feedback on work skills and performance through a personal capacity, like face-to-face. Sometimes, things can be misunderstood through written means, as it lacks emotional presence and understanding.

Communicating in-person can also help a mentee fully appreciate their feedback, effectively developing their training.

Building trust with your mentees

The only way mentoring programs will succeed is through great levels of trust!

Mentors can achieve this through:

  • Taking the time to develop a mentoring relationship: Building a strong connection can enhance mentoring training more than you think. Sharing a personal anecdote or connecting on a common matter can push your mentoring relationship beyond the norm.

  • Have emotional intelligence during conversations: The most successful training schemes don’t just apply corporate knowhow and end it there. Personal development is more than learning a new skill for work. It’s also about growing the individual as a human. Being able to help mentees learn how to apply themselves (not just their CV achievements) will help them significantly hit goals and land placements at higher levels.

  • Remember a conversation has two people: To build a genuine relationship with mentees, you need to have honest channels of communication. Your conversations should be mutual and on a shared platform, rather than be shaped as one-sided. A shared platform will help erase any levels of power or hierarchy, helping the mentee to feel comfortable with their mentor. This will lead to a higher level of trust, respect, and a genuine drive to learn.

Listening is just as important as talking

Presenting ideas and strategies for your mentees is great, but it’s just as important to listen to their needs and questions.

Actively listening to them will ensure they are fully on-par with their training. Aim to have open channels and a genuine effort for meeting any queries or requests they raise.

Through these communication routes, mentors can present the most effective methods for training and development. And you’ll be able to watch your mentees significantly grow as unique individuals through their entire mentoring experience.

Now that you know the communication techniques necessary, you can read here to find out how to start your mentoring program.

Guest Author: Kayleigh Frost

Kayleigh Frost is the Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured

Advice for Mentors

How to Be a Good Mentor: 16 Top Tips

Being asked to be a mentor is a highly rewarding privilege. It means somebody has identified you as an intelligent and inspirational figure who could benefit others with their guidance.

But the difference between a good and a bad mentor can be life-changing, so we’re sure you want to get it right.

Working with thousands of mentors at Guider, we know a thing or two about what makes a good mentor. Explore our tips of becoming a good mentor below:

1. Set mutual expectations and goals

This is highly important to establish early on in your mentoring relationship. To avoid any miscommunication and disappointment, outline together:

  • What your mentee wants to get out of a mentoring relationship with you
  • What you are prepared and not prepared to do for them
  • What you expect of them, and vice versa
  • How often you will meet / talk

Ensure that you work with your mentee to identify what they want to achieve and that the goals they set are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

The best time to set these expectations is in your intro session! Check out our full guide here:

☕️ How To Run A Successful Intro Session With Your Mentee ☕️

2. Study your mentee

In order to be a good mentor, you must listen, observe, ask questions, and only then advise.

Gain as much information and clarity about your mentee’s aspirations, situation, and roadblocks as you can. Be open-minded and inquisitive!

It’s essential to remember that you are not trying to create a ‘mini me’, but helping them figure out who they want to be and supporting them to get there.

With any form of communication, there’s a lot more to it than simply what your mentee is saying. Analysing their body language and expressions is also a vital part of the mentoring process, as their words may be telling you one thing, but their body language is telling you something completely different.

3. Never assume anything about your mentee

Assuming what someone is thinking is never an effective way to communicate, and this is no different in the relationship between a mentor and a mentee.

When communicating with your mentee, ensure that you’re conducting ‘Active Listening’, and avoid any preconceived notions you may have.

Promoting an environment for growth and collaborating between yourself and your mentee will help them to reach their full potential and get the most out of their experience with you.

4. Be patient and allow them to explore their own ideas

It’s important that both you and your mentee are patient with their development, as they need time to process their own ideas and understanding. 

As a mentor, you should be promoting a safe place which allows your mentee to learn from their own unique perspectives and self-discovery should be encouraged.

Embracing mistakes that your mentee makes as ‘learning opportunities’ creates a positive environment for personal growth and development, as well as building up your mentee’s confidence and resilience.

5. Dig deep and ask open-ended questions

Closed questions lead to closed answers, so it’s vital to ask open questions which make your mentee think and explain their thoughts and feelings behind their answer.

Asking questions that lead to deeper conversations helps your mentee foster more critical thinking and encourages them to think about new and different ideas.

6. Listen to what your mentee has to say

Listening is not just a core characteristic of a great mentor but of a colleague, manager, and leader.

As a mentor, a big part of your role is to create a space in which your mentee feels safe, validated and heard. While you will impart wisdom and advice, it’s important to remember that your job is to listen to your mentee first and foremost.

If you already count yourself as a great listener or are trying to grow in this area, becoming a mentor is a great way to do this.

Try practising the art of listening, validating and responding thoughtfully. It’s a key way to build positive relationships, show others that they are supported and prepare yourself for senior leadership in which listening is a key, yet underrated, skill.

7. Share your knowledge and experience

Having relevant knowledge and experience that you can impart to a mentee is a must, but you don’t need to know absolutely everything about your field to be a successful mentor.

The point of a mentor is that you use your experience to guide others. This doesn’t mean having all the answers. Supporting someone to work things out for themselves is a more powerful way to learn than simply being told what to do.

As a mentor, you may have experiences that you don’t count as mentor ready yet. Completed a few rounds of appraisals? Managed a team? Successfully transitioned career? These are all skills that many people value and need advice on.

You don’t need 20 years of experience to become a great mentor, in fact, it can be more helpful to provide advice when you are closer to a specific problem or experience.

8. Adopt a growth mindset

Your job as a mentor isn’t only to give advice. There’s learning on both sides of the relationship. By adopting a growth mindset and an open mind, a mentor can benefit enormously from the relationship. This also ties into a commitment to continuous learning, an essential skill to foster.

Mentoring opens up your network to a range of different people and perspectives. Throughout the relationship, you will work together to learn how best to achieve the development goals for the mentee. In order to do this, a mentor needs to stay flexible and attentive to how they too can adapt too.

Staying open-minded about what you can learn from your mentee will turn you from a good mentor, into a great one.

📖 These qualities are also important in a buddying system, find out more in our guide 📖

9. Get to know your mentee on a personal level

Taking the time to get to know your mentee and developing a personal bond with them is an important part of the mentoring process.

Doing this helps to build trust between the pair of you, and can help lead to a more supportive mentor-mentee relationship. 

Taking the time to learn more about your mentee’s personal interests and core values means you can tailor your mentoring accordingly and helps to grow an environment that encourages openness and trust.

10. Be respective and responsive

A good mentor is both respectful of others and responsive. Your mentee will bring with them their own life experience and perspective, the goal of a mentor is to help them grow and to do that you need to create space for them to be themselves and overcome limiting beliefs.

Respecting differences, whether it’s opinion or life experience, creates the right environment for mentoring to work. Without this, the mentoring relationship would be negative and unproductive for both parties. Imagine sitting down with someone for a mentoring session, only to find that they are disrespectful of your thoughts and opinions.

Respect and responsiveness are core skills needed as a manager and leader. Becoming a mentor is a great way to practise and nurture these important skills.‍

“Every day that you come into contact with different types of people and work through different challenges, issues, and successes, you learn something. Every single time you have a conversation, you learn something about people’s behaviour, you learn something about their motivations, and you learn something about yourself…it’s rich, it’s rewarding…it’s a win-win.” — James Newton-Brown, Head of Product Development at Marks & Spencer

Read more about our work with M&S

11. Take notes during the mentoring sessions and follow up

This is a fairly simple tip, but note-taking is an effective part of any meeting or conversation and can be easily forgotten when the conversation is flowing.

When having a conversation with your mentee, taking notes can help you capture and retain the information they are giving you, as it’s difficult to remember everything you will have discussed during your hour-long conversation.

These notes can also be shared at the end of the meeting, so both you and your mentee can reflect on what was talked about.

It’s also critical to create action points throughout the meeting, which can be added to your meeting notes. This helps to create accountability, and both you as the mentor and your mentee can return to the notes to see what needs to happen before your next catch-up.

12. Provide honest feedback and share your faults

Some of the best mentors are the harshest critics, so don’t be afraid to offer some constructive criticism, followed by advice on how to improve.

Keep feedback specific and neutral – critique an action or behaviour, not their personality – and also make it a two-way conversation!

Good mentors can help their mentees realise their own mistakes or areas of improvement with insightful questions, rather than simply telling them what to do. This is known as the ‘Socratic method’ – try it by asking questions such as:

  • “What went right?”
  • “What could have gone better?”
  • “What could you do differently in the future?”
  • “What assumptions are you making here?”
  • “Are there alternative viewpoints you’ve not considered?”

Equally, be open to sharing your own mistakes and failures! This will enable you to build trust with your mentee quicker and strengthen the relationship overall.

Admitting faults will make you more human and approachable, and is likely to also encourage mentees to be more open about their own mistakes with you.

13. Let your mentee do the driving, and don’t be afraid to challenge them

To be a good mentor, you must realise that it’s your job to provide directions, not to drive the car.

Think of yourself as a driving instructor in a passenger’s seat. You can encourage them to tackle more challenging routes and give your advice, but ultimately, they’re in control of the vehicle.

Use the Socratic method we just discussed, and get your mentee to arrive at the conclusion you want by asking them thought-provoking questions. Remember, you’re a guide – not a manager and not a parent figure. Point them in the right direction, but let them figure out the way.

It’s also important to always expect more from your mentee. This will mean you naturally challenge them and push them out of their comfort zone, which is when some of the best learning happens!

Find out more about how to keep your mentoring sessions productive in our guide.

14. Recommend relevant books, events, podcasts, blogs, or classes

By recommending books, blogs, and podcasts to your mentee, you are helping to provide them with other people’s thoughts that are not solely your own, widening their experience and knowledge of your shared sector.

Developing new skills and accessing expert insights are vital for continuous development, which is something that you should be encouraging as a mentor. No one is ever the finished article, so continuing to develop and harness your skills is essential to any successful career.

15. Measure your mentee’s success

To understand the impact that your mentoring is having on your mentee, it is essential to establish measurable outcomes. By setting clear KPIs from the start, you will be able to effectively measure the success of the mentorship.

It’s important to refer back to these goals when you have catch-ups to see what progress has been made towards achieving them.

If you’re a business looking to measure the success of a mentoring programme, Guider has a guide on how you can do just that!

16. Celebrate their success

Celebrating success is the final tip in our guide to being a good mentor.

Boosting motivation and keeping morale high is essential to encouraging a mentee to continue to make progress, and celebrating their success and do just that. It also helps to reinforce their positive attitude, which helps build more self-belief and confidence.

Many mentees are looking to feel acknowledged and appreciated with positive recognition, as well as the guidance and support that you give them along their journey. Celebrating success, such as meeting a goal you set out to achieve at the start of the mentorship, is an important part of the process.

At its core, being a mentor is being a trusted advisor. It involves making yourself available to support and advise someone when they need it, delivering that support in a way that makes sense to them, and always keeping that person’s best interests in mind.

Read this article for more tips on how to start mentoring programs, and we wish you the best of luck on your mentoring journey.

How Guider Can Help

Guider AI is an award-winning mentoring platform that provides support, reporting and ongoing optimisation to develop people and businesses through mentoring.

If you’d like to find out more information about the help and support we have available, then feel free to get in touch with our team or book a demo today.

Advice for Mentors

How to Run a Successful Mentoring Intro Session With Your Mentee

So you’ve decided to become a mentor! Well done – we need people like you.

Once you’ve been matched with your mentee, by your HR team or through mentoring software, you can start thinking about your first session.

The intro – or ‘chemistry’ – session between a mentor and mentee is crucial, as it will dictate whether the relationship develops, or whether the fit isn’t quite right.

From working with hundreds of mentors here at Guider, we’ve analysed the best way to run a successful intro session with your mentee – here’s a step by step list to get started:

Before the Intro Session:

1. Research your mentee

First thing’s first, read up on your mentee! Take a look at their profile (or questionnaire answers depending how your mentoring programme is run), and familiarise yourself with their background, skills and goals before your intro session.

Take a look at their Linkedin profile too to learn more about their past experience, and note any things you have in common which could be useful for ice breaker conversation.

2. Brush up on your expertise

Take some time to remind yourself of your biggest strengths and achievements. You don’t want to end up giving your autobiography, so prior to your intro session, make sure you’ve reflected on your experience and noted areas you believe you can work on with your mentee.

Remember: this intro session is all about finding alignment and chemistry so you can embark on a mentoring journey together, so it’s best to discuss expertise that is highly relevant to their goals / career desires.

3. Double check the logistics

This may sound obvious, but make sure that you and your mentee know where and when you are meeting for your session (if it’s in person). Or if it’s a video call, check in over email beforehand and test the video link in advance to avoid any technical delays!

Types and uses of workplace mentoring e-book downloadDuring the Intro Session:

1. Ask open questions

Don’t drive straight into the meaty stuff – ease your way into the session by asking open and general questions about your mentee’s background, their education, interests and career to date. This is also a good time to chat about any mutual interests or hobbies you may have learnt about!

Questions like this work well to kick off discussion:

  • “Where did you grow up?”
  • “Could you tell me about your career journey so far?”
  • “When and why did you join the company you’re currently at?”

2. Introduce yourself

Tell your mentee about yourself. Include an overview of your career journey, key achievements, passions and interests, and why you wanted to be a mentor.

Try to link as much as possible to areas where their interest also lies, to find common ground and highlight how you can help them learn and grow.

3. Stress confidentiality

It’s good to remind your mentee that everything they say or discuss is entirely confidential and stays between you two.

This is especially relevant for internal mentoring in organisations – do your best to make your mentee feel at ease and comfortable to open up to you!

4. Discuss their goals

Get an idea about what development areas or goals your mentee wants to achieve, and in what timeframe. Discuss ways you believe you can help them get there, with as many actionable suggestions as possible.

Note: It’s important to be honest at this stage if you don’t feel like you can help them or you don’t think your expertise is relevant to a particular goal.

How To Set Goals (And Actually Achieve Them)

5. Set mutual expectations

Discuss your working style and set your own boundaries. Be open with your mentee by explaining your limitations and how you want to work together. This includes how often you should meet, how long you want the sessions to be, and how you prefer to communicate.

After the Intro Session:

1. Book the next session

We’d recommend comparing calendars at the end of your intro session, then you can follow up with an email invite for the next session afterwards. If you agreed to a regular meeting time that works for both of you, you can even make this calendar invite recurring.

2. Share relevant materials

Remember to send over the links to any relevant articles, events, books or podcast recommendations you may have discussed in your intro session.

This sets the precedent of good communication and following up, showing that you’re dedicated to the relationship and their development.

3. Get connected!

If you haven’t done so already, connect with your mentee on LinkedIn.

The first mentoring session is all about finding chemistry. Getting to know their background, career and personality will help you understand their goals and challenges a lot better.

You may not have too much time to start giving advice, but don’t worry, that will come in proceeding sessions! Don’t rush it. The majority of the intro meeting will be about getting to know each other and seeing how you can work together going forward.

Good luck!

For more expert tips, check out our guides:

How To Be A Great Mentor

Get the Most Out of Mentoring This Year

How to Run a Productive Mentoring Session

How to Find a Great Mentor

How to Be a Good Mentee

15 Essential Mentoring Skills

How to Be a Good Mentor