Secrets of Successful Mentoring
There is little that is more rewarding than equipping those who come after you in a way that sees them achieving long term personal and professional success. If you are gifted with the opportunity to mentor an up and coming team superstar, consider following these easy steps to ensure your mentee receives optimum training that will serve him or her throughout their career.
Develop Shared Goals…Together
Begin by developing shared goals, remembering that this goes both ways. You should set goals for yourself, as you do so for your mentor/mentee team. Every opportunity is an opportunity for growth for BOTH individuals, so make sure that you spend some time reflecting on what you would like to accomplish, as well. Once these goals have been developed, make sure to chronicle them, referencing them occasionally. This ensures that all eyes stay consistently on the prize.
Create Ground Rules and Norms
Every productive relationship has a set of norms, whether spoken or unspoken. Make sure to speak those norms and basic rules of operation into existence from the very beginning, so that there is never any confusion regarding what anyone should expect to see, hear, or experience. Whether these are simple “time and place” norms, or those more in depth bits that cover how to respond or ways to handle conflict, it is important for both parties to be on the same page in regards to how your interactions unfold. Roles should be clearly defined in this initial meeting, as well.
Stop, Look, Listen
This seems quite simplistic, but may, indeed, be one of the most important “rules” of mentoring. While I encourage you to always grow yourself as you’re growing others, make sure that your mentee remains at the center of all attention. “Stop” asks that you take the opportunity to occasionally pump the proverbial brakes to ensure you’re not so wrapped up in self that you miss the purpose of this very important relationship. “Look” requires that you truly see the individual in front of you. This simply asks that you be where you need to be in the moment. Leave all other business at the door and truly check in with your mentee. “Listen” may be the most important of all three of these, in that you are, in this moment, completely plugged in to the needs and desires of the person with whom you’re working. Hear what they have to say, attempting to hold all comments, suggestions, problem solving techniques, etc. until they are finished. Repeat what you’ve heard, making sure that your perception and experiences hasn’t added anything that they didn’t.
Not literally, of course, unless you’re just that kind of mentor. What I mean by this particular bit is that you should use the influence that you have-the connections you’ve created to achieve success- to equip the next generation of company all-stars. Very few people reach astounding levels of success without the support of other key players, and you should view it as your job to share those resources with those who are entrusting you with their professional future. The sharing of resources should be seen as a strength, rather than a weakness, and all who are connected will benefit from this type of growth mindset.
Improve your Emotional Intelligence
Never underestimate the power of understanding the hows and whys of other human beings. The greatest teachers understand that true learning cannot be achieved before true connections are made. When you explore and expand your emotional intelligence, you are granted additional access points into the psyche of those with whom you work. Those are the areas through which you will see your greatest successes, as, once understood, your mentee will reward you by stepping out of his or her comfort zone in an attempt to follow your lead.