What makes a good Career Mentor?
At some point in your career, you might realize you need a career mentor.
Because no matter how smart, experienced, or educated you are, there is always someone ahead of you, and they are acing business and career decisions.
You can try different things for 5, 10, or 15 years and get that wisdom, or you can get into a mentor-mentee relationship and utilise your mentor’s experience to help steer your career in the right direction.
How do you know if someone is a good mentor or not?
Eight Qualities of a Great Mentor
There are some personality traits and characters that make a good career mentor. Let’s study them.
They share skills, knowledge, and expertise.
Good mentors are willing to share whatever knowledge they have, irrespective of the mentee’s career and employment status. In addition, they clearly remember their feelings and the pressure they faced when they were starting in the field.
Hence, they don’t take the mentoring relationship lightly and understand that they have to offer their time, commitment, and wisdom to support their mentee’s career.
They act as a positive role model.
Good mentors exhibit personal attributes required to be successful in their careers. They teach their mentees how to be productive and successful by demonstrating specific behaviours and actions. For example, they teach mentees to prioritise work and plan their days, weeks, and months.
They also show them how to maintain a positive outlook towards professional matters and life in general.
They take a keen interest in the mentoring relationship.
They know that being a mentor is a huge responsibility and how important is it to take a mentee’s career development seriously. As a result, they become genuinely invested in the success of their mentee.
Usually, this requires someone knowledgeable, compassionate, and possesses the attributes of a good teacher or trainer. Excellent communication skills are also needed. A good mentor is committed to helping their mentees find success and gratification in their chosen profession. Overall good mentoring requires empowering the mentee to develop their strengths, beliefs, and personal attributes.
They show genuine enthusiasm in the field.
Mentorship is not a chore or a typical “job,” A good mentor understands that well. Mentors who do not exhibit excitement and enthusiasm about their role as a mentor do not generally make good mentors.
Enthusiastic mentors show their excitement through their communication and body language. For instance, they are happy to greet their mentees and always look forward to the next meeting. In addition, when they talk about any issues or agenda, they do it with passion.
They value learning and growth in the field.
Since mentors have years of experience, they have seen the industry evolve. They have been through the ups and downs; they know that what worked 5 or 10 years ago isn’t guaranteed to work now.
The skills that dominated a decade ago might not be enough to stay on top now. Hence, they teach their mentees about how the industry is growing and changing with each passing year. They tell them about valuable skills and courses that can add value and equip them with the best tools and knowledge to move ahead in their career.
Plus, good mentors are always open to experimenting and learning practices that are new to the field. Moreover, they read professional journals habitually and may even write articles on subjects where they have developed some expertise. Finally, they even sign up for delivering lectures in workshops or seminars to play their part in the growth of newcomers and give back to the community.
They guide and criticise honestly.
One of the key traits of good mentors is providing guidance and constructive feedback to their mentees. This mentorship aspect plays the most crucial role in a mentee’s development, as honest feedback helps them identify their weaknesses.
However, good mentors make sure they don’t act harsh and blunt while giving their criticism. Instead, as masters of communication, they don’t let their mentees feel ashamed or let down and still manage to highlight the weak points.
More importantly, they don’t leave their mentees hanging or looking for answers. Instead, once mentors highlight their shortcomings, they also show them the way to improvement and development. As the famous saying goes, “A leader knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way.”
The same applies to mentors; they don’t just tell you about weaknesses; they tell you how to overcome them and help you through this transformation.
They give and get respect.
Since mentors are senior professionals, they get respected by colleagues and other staff working in their organization. However, great mentors have a confident persona that inspires respect without any fear or level of seniority.
Their actions, behaviour, and humility speak volumes about the strength of their character and make them get everyone’s admiration and respect.
Plus, they know how it feels to be treated poorly or with disrespect, so they make sure that nobody has to feel that way. They respect their colleagues regardless of their work title or years of experience.
They use “please” and “thank you” frequently in all communication and correspondence.
They help set and meet professional goals.
Good mentors are good listeners and can judge their mentees’ potential by actively listening to them.
They analyze your personality and thoughts and help you identify your strengths, and set realistic yet ambitious career goals. Moreover, they make sure that you put in the required effort to meet your goals and keep track of your career progress.
They value others’ opinions and initiatives.
Mentors are usually great team members, and they value other people’s suggestions and opinions. Not only that, they show massive appreciation when a mentee or a junior makes an effort to provide a solution or insight into any problem.
If they agree with your opinion, they further boost your morale and openly acknowledge that you are on the right track. And, if mentors don’t agree with what you think, they ask valid questions and help you see things from their perspective – all of this with proper dialogue and keeping mentees’ respect and integrity intact.
Resilient and adaptable
Great mentors are successful in their careers, but they may not have been this way in the beginning. They, too, have faced difficulties and setbacks in the workplace and know how to overcome them.
What made them great was how they adapted to the challenges, fought back, and tried to instil the same resilience in their mentees and students.
This article was first published on thrive— on September 22, 2021
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