Mentoring is the act of guiding a mentee in the right direction so that he is able to solve issues or problems pertaining to his career.
Mentorship is all about encouraging and supporting the mentee to manage his learning process effectively for maximization of his potentials, improvement of performance, and the development of skills.
Mentors serve as guardians. Due to past and similar experiences in the same field of their mentees, mentors are people who have some level of empathy for their mentees, and they understand the issues or challenges a mentee faces.
A mentor’s main aim is to help his mentees develop their potentials, improve on their skills and direct them on how to reach their goal of becoming a seasoned professional or how to assume the qualities of the personality they are looking forward to develop into. They serve as role models to their mentees.
Though similar to coaching, mentoring is very distinct from coaching. Simply put, mentoring focuses more on the future and how to gain broader skills whiles coaching focuses on now-and-present problems.
Importance of Mentoring
Anyone – a pastor, lawyer, doctor, president, teacher, farmer, sportsman etc. – can be a mentor. Mentorship is essential for the mentee’s personal motivation and development of career goals.
It is usually built and based on mutual trust and respect between the mentor and mentee. Mentors have heard it all, seen it all, and felt it all. They bring their experience and skills on board which guide and direct mentees who are relatively ignorant of the results of certain actions and inactions, future threats and opportunities etc.
Mentorship is essential because:
- Success stories of mentors encourage and boost the confidence of mentees.
- Instructions of mentors help mentees avoid avoidable mistakes.
- A mentor serves as a role model and can be of positive influence to the professionalism and social life of mentees.
- Mentorship also helps the mentees foresee future opportunities and threats which are otherwise not noticeable by a mere novice, and it helps them weigh their career options.
Having a mentor or mentors in your organization will provide numerous benefits to the mentees (students or employees).
As an individual, this skill can be appropriated in the later years of your career, even after retirement.
How to improve on Mentoring skills
Sooner or later, you may find yourself in a position where your mentoring skills will be needed by a person or a group. Mentoring is not just about sharing your experience. Your experiences, both the positive and negative ones, should not be narrated only but must have a strong impact on the mentee(s).
There are a couple of things that can be learnt to improve your mentorship skills or enhance any mentoring relationship.
- Management and development of the relationship: There are mentorship relationships that develop naturally but even with those, effectiveness does not come by default. Psyche your mind up, get yourself ready, and make sure you have developed a genuine interest in this responsibility. Learn to initiate dialogues since some mentees may never open up on their challenges unless asked about them.
- Learn to be a friend: It is one of the most essential aspects of mentorship skills. You need to develop the ability to listen carefully to mentees and put yourself in their shoes. Make use of encouraging and positive words. Additionally, find interesting ways to share your experiences with them; in a captivating and engaging way. Promptness of feedback is also very critical as well as intelligently expressing your emotional affection for them during successes or failures.
- Be a watchman: Your mentee is not watching or listening to you alone –there are other people and events that can be sources of discouragement, threats or opportunities to him. Learn to watch out for any threats in their environment and find a way to neutralize them. If there are available opportunities, make them known to them and help him or her make maximum use of those opportunities.