No matter what industry you work in, mentorship is an important part of being a successful in the workforce. For the mentee, it's an opportunity to develop as a professional and pursue career objectives. For the mentor, it's both a way to give back and a chance to refine leadership skills.
Even if you aren't at the top of corporate ladder, you have likely learned a number of lessons over the course of your career that could be valuable to someone who is just starting out. To be a mentor who truly makes a difference, follow these three tips:
1. Prioritize the relationship
On any given day there are probably numerous tasks vying for your attention, especially if you work in a leadership position. However, prioritizing your relationship with your mentee is important. Plan a regular time to talk, whether it's grabbing coffee once a month or checking in by phone every week or two. If you don't put in the time to grow the relationship and develop trust with the person you're mentoring, neither of you will benefit from the experience.
Mentorship is a powerful practice that can benefit both parties.
2. Don't neglect character
While it may seem that it's most important to help your mentee pursue practical skills, character is just as - if not more - important than abilities on a resume.
"The best leaders go beyond competency, focusing on helping to shape other people's character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect," Anthony Tjan, chairman and co-founder of The Cue Ball Group, LLC, wrote for the Harvard Business Review. "They know in the long run that there is a hard truth about soft matters and that these values-based qualities matter a lot more than skill enhancement."
If you truly want your mentee to succeed, make sure that he or she develops the character traits such as self-awareness and respect that are necessary in both the workplace and beyond.
3. Be a mentee
Just because you're a mentor doesn't mean that you have all the answers. If you want to invest in someone else, you should also find a mentor of your own. Being a mentee will give you an idea of what the relationship looks like from the other side and grow your own opportunities and professional wisdom. Avoiding complacency and stagnation in your own career will ensure that you continue to have valuable wisdom to pass on to others.
If you work in early childhood education or human services, consider enrolling in online courses from ProSolutions Training to develop further as a leader in your field.