4 Tips on Being a Mentor and Providing a Valuable Experience

Leadership Professional Growth

Being a mentor can be one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. Here are four tips to help you give your mentee an amazing experience.

Being a mentor is a serious endeavor, regardless if it’s an informal relationship between two trusted friends or a more formalized partnership. It’s about more than just giving general career advice or expanding their network; the best mentors are a champion for their mentee. They give up their time and energy to help someone else succeed, knowing that good deeds like this rarely go unrewarded.

If you’re embarking on being a mentor, or even if you’re just looking for new strategies for success, here are four tips that can help you give your mentee an amazing experience.

1. Don’t Just Give Answers

This may seem like a crazy way to start off the list, but it’s critical to a successful relationship with your mentee. If they wanted to receive information in a lecture-based format, they could just go back to school. Your goal is not to instill basic knowledge — it’s to transform. The most powerful mentors offer those “aha” moments that go beyond what you can read in a book or learn from a presentation at a workshop. In other words, they don’t just give answers. They also ask questions, and help their mentees to come to their own conclusions. Consider taking that approach to further connect with your mentee and discover different ways to make this a valuable experience for them.

2. Listen Actively

It can be very easy to let your own motives, experiences and inclinations guide where you take your mentee, but you’ve got to make sure they align with where your mentee wants to go. Active listening is a must as a mentor. Give them your full attention and focus when you’re together, repeat back what they’re saying to make sure you heard it correctly, and ask for clarification if there’s any doubt about your mentee’s intentions. And sometimes, it’s acceptable to just let them talk. Your mentee may need to vent and isn’t really looking for a solution. There’s nothing wrong with that! Allowing them to get whatever is going on out of their system will help you refocus them on the solution and their goals.

3. Stay Detached

You’ll likely have or build a personal relationship with your mentee, but you should keep your head about you and maintain detached. In this case, being detached does not mean that you don’t want your mentee’s success, it just means that you’re not attaching your own success to it. This approach allows you to see things from a neutral point of view that will set you up to give the best guidance. Remember, the moment you want your mentee’s success more than they want it themselves is the moment when you lose your effectiveness as a mentor.

4. Celebrate Unapologetically

Mentors help their mentees through tough situations, but they also need to be their biggest cheerleaders when things are going right. When they have a win, no matter how small, you should remind them to celebrate it.

Sometimes people might be hesitant to really celebrate their accomplishments, particularly when it isn’t a major milestone. However, when you consistently celebrate your wins, you focus on the opportunities in your life instead of challenges. Make sure you’re helping them cast their energy in the right direction by seeing all they have available to them.

Remember to enjoy every minute of your relationship with your mentee. Yes, you’re helping them advance their career, but this is very much a two-way partnership. When you’re fully engaged in the process, you’ll learn just as much as the person you’re guiding.

Karlyn Borysenko
Karlyn Borysenko

My goal is to make professional life better for individuals, and drive productivity and results for organizations. I fix the "people problems" and I help individuals build better working relationships across their organizations, navigate office politics, create a great organizational culture, build and lead more productive teams, and be great managers. I'm one of the few workplace bullying experts in the country and I can help individuals who have been targeted, or organizations who think they might have a bullying problem on their hands. And if you work in sales or fundraising, I can teach you how to "read" your prospects to increase your close rate and generate more revenue. I'm an MBA, a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (ABD), and a certified DiSC Trainer. I believe passionately that an organization's most valuable resource is its people, and that leaders have a responsibility to put structures, processes, and systems in place that will support employee success, development, job satisfaction, and organizational culture.