Top 10 tips for effective mentoring

I started mentoring when I started my first job. Since I felt blessed, I made a commitment that I would always help in some way and give back. In the course of my career, I have had some awesome mentors who helped shape my life. I still exchange Christmas cards with my first manager and mentor from 20 years ago. She is such a powerful, fearless leader who taught me some lessons that I remember to this day.

Hence, it is never too early to start mentoring and giving back. You learn and grow from each mentoring experience. As you help someone with less experience in your area of expertise, you will also gain a fresh perspective. What can give you greater pleasure and joy than making an impact in someone’s life?
Here are some tips to assist you on your journey as a mentor.

10. Put the interests of your mentee above your own biases. Be committed to serve in the relationship. Be realistic in what you can provide and achieve.
9. Facilitate your mentee’s thinking process to find one’s own answers. Coach. Avoid being prescriptive. It encourages thoughtful analysis. There is greater ownership in results if one participates in the decisions made.
8. Be a good, empathic listener without judgment. In the words of Mark Goulston and John Ullmen “learn to listen into other people to discover what’s going on inside them. It’s listening on their terms, (not yours) to understand where people are coming from that establishes genuine rapport”.
7. Invest in being a SME (subject matter expert) in the area relevant so that you can direct your mentee to specific resources.
6. Point out your mentee’s opportunities for constructive development. Challenge and motivate. Be frank, and respectful.
5. Put yourself in the mentee’s shoes and experience their dilemma if there is one. It will foster being supportive.
4. Respect confidentiality. The mentee may share information in confidence that may be required for the mentorship. Share your story. It builds trust.
3. Prepare for each meeting/interaction. Each meeting should have a purpose, agenda and outcome that are tied to the overall objective and schedule. Track and celebrate progress.
2. Put a schedule for the learning experience. Plan the phases with outcomes, and metrics that can be measured.
1. A mentorship should have an objective, mission, and goals that are agreed upon at the beginning.

Reading References: Effective Mentoring by Dr. Norman H. Cohen
NCWIT: National Center for women in IT.