Today, 70 percent of Fortune 500 firms have internal mentoring programs. These programs focus on employee development while also boosting employee loyalty and productivity. In general, mentors offer guidance, share their knowledge, challenge and push, help set career goals, motivate, offer emotional support, empower, and act as a role model.
While mentees greatly benefit from mentors, it’s important to remember that both parties benefit from the relationship. For example, you might be an expert in your field and a leader who can motivate and empower, but you might also learn a few things from your mentee. If becoming a mentor (and not just a manager) is something you’re looking to do, here are six essential tips you’ll want to follow.
1. Identify Goals
If you want to become a mentor, you first want to discuss expectations for the future. Ask the potential mentee what they hope to achieve in the next five years. Where do they see themselves by that point in their career? Then discuss goals. Goals are essential for measuring the progress of your employees. Discuss the time limit to achieve these goals and the metrics to measure the progress of said goals. Also, you will need to discuss the length of the relationship. It’s essential to clearly understand what to expect from the mentee in the short and long term.
2. Get to Know Your Mentee
A mentorship relationship isn't supposed to be a general one. Instead, you two are meant to be very close and work even closer to ensure the success of the mentoring. Thus, you have to know the employee personally and understand their characteristics. You can even talk about work-related behaviors such as their working style, dream job, workplace happiness, etc. The key to forging a close relationship with your mentee is, in some way, knowing the person on a deeper level. Knowing who they are and what they're like will help you understand how to communicate and interact with them.
3. Learn to Trust
You will have to let the employee do their thing at some point. Remember that you're not supposed to babysit them—your employees are adults who can handle the heat. So, you need to build trust. Trusting your mentees with crucial decisions while taking a supportive role is essential for professional development. It's also crucial for their confidence and overcoming challenges. Mentorship relationships are built on trust. Without trust, the relationship will never work.
4. Take a Back Seat
Once you start trusting your mentee with important decisions, it's time to take a back seat. You're giving the steering wheel to your mentee but are right behind them. You're not supposed to end the mentorship until you reach your destination. But you are supposed to give advice when your mentee hits a stumbling block. This is precisely why you're mentoring them. You have the experience and expertise—something your mentees lack. When your mentee hits a problematic stumbling block, you have the contacts to turn to assess the situation, and the resources to offer the best possible advice and feedback.
Empowering is one of your many responsibilities when being a mentor to your employees. Your objective is to improve your mentees professionally. And to do that, you have to give your mentees the power and authority to make their own decisions. Some say trust and empowerment are similar things. But you can empower your mentee once you start trusting them. It's no good giving them the steering wheel if they don't know how to drive. But that doesn't mean you're supposed to take their hand in every possible situation. Make it clear to your mentees to learn how to solve problems on their own, especially menial problems. Be there to offer assistance and feedback, but empower your mentees to be resourceful and overcome challenges independently.
6. Celebrate When Goals Are Achieved
To ensure your mentees’ hard work doesn't go unnoticed, celebrate every goal they achieve. Acknowledgment is essential to your mentees' confidence and motivation. When you acknowledge the excellent work they've done, they get a dose of dopamine rush. But the way you celebrate their achievements depends on your relationship. As such, we leave the celebrations to you, as the type of celebration depends on your relationship.
Erik Bergman co-founded Catena Media and helped grow it to more than 300 employees and a $200 million valuation before stepping away to start Great.com, an iGaming organization that donates 100 percent of its profits to environmental charities. In addition to running a successful online affiliate business, Erik hosts the Becoming Great podcast, shares entrepreneurship tips with his more than one million social media followers, and contributes to sites like Entrepreneuer.com, Business Insider, Foundr, and Forbes.