Guest Author - Dianne Walker
We hear a lot these days about finding mentors. But what about the flip side? Where are the mentors of the future going to come from? Have you thought far enough ahead in your career to determine whether or not you would make a good mentor to an up and coming employee? There are currently thousands of people looking for mentors, right now, to help them advance in their careers. Of course it takes subject matter knowledge, but there are also a few more skills you will need to become a successful mentor.
What are the traits of a successful mentor?
- You get a sense of satisfaction in developing others.
- You have the ability to provide support and encouragement even in the face of a challenge.
- You have the ability to teach a specific set of skills.
- You can differentiate between coaching and counseling and can administer both as needed in a given situation.
- You have the fortitude to push people when they need to be pushed. A mentor can give instructions, but there will be times when they will need to give orders.
- You have the ability to objectively evaluate performance.
A good mentor has many outstanding characteristics. They should also be respectful, honest, accessible and confident. A mentor must be able to be a good teacher and motivator. There will be times when they need to be nurturing and times when they will need to be assertive or aggressive - all in the best interest of their protégée.
What does a mentor look for in a protégé?
Not everyone can be mentored. There must be a hidden gift waiting for just the right moment to shine. A protégé must show potential at being able to grasp the concepts being taught to them. A desire to learn and a deep ambition and commitment to challenges. A mentor can explain why, however, if they need to explain the same “why” repeatedly, that person may not be ready to be mentored.
A successful mentor is an enormous benefit to any organization. Good mentors, not only build morale, but also reduce turnover and increase the talent level of employees within the organization. It is important to remember, however, there is a difference between being a role model and a mentor. Role models are not up close and personal. A role model can be emulated from a distance with little to no interaction. Mentors are right up front - an all hands on team player.