“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
Whether you’re fresh out of school looking for your first job or a new entrepreneur looking to take your business to the next level, you don’t have to do it alone. We have this skewed idea that to be successful you have to prove to everyone that you can do it on your own. The truth is very few people are “self-made”. Everyone needs help and guidance. In fact, 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentorship programs.
A mentor is a professional with lived experience who can help guide you through a particular period in your career. You might have several mentors over time, as each person assists you when you need them the most. You can have a mentor, while also being a mentor to somebody else.
A trusted mentor is a teacher, but they’re also a sounding board, an emotional support person and your biggest cheerleader.
According to a study out of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a mentee is most successful when mentored by someone who is at the top of their game in their chosen field. But the goal is not to mimic the career of a mentor, but to chart your own course with their guidance.
So what makes a good mentor? Let’s narrow it down to five…
1.Be a good listener
As a mentor, you will have to learn to sit back and listen to what your protege is saying. While your instinct might be to talk and share, and there will be a time for that, you need to know when to pause and actively listen.
2. Offer constructive criticism
Your mentee is with you because you are their trusted advisor. You cannot fulfill your role without telling them the truth. You are there to provide guidance and you cannot do that if you’re not providing honest feedback. Constructive criticism is useful, not mean or harsh.
To ensure the success of your mentee, open doors for them. Connect them with people you know who can help with their career.
4. Show empathy
Remember what it was like when you were in their position. It’s hard to strike out on one’s own. It can be a struggle in the beginning. Show empathy when your mentee is sharing their story.
5. Be open
Be open, ready and willing to share your own story and journey with someone else who’s looking to you for guidance. You cannot be a good mentor if you’re not prepared to open up to someone.
How to be a Good Mentee
Just as one must be a good mentor, you must also be a good mentee. You might feel very vulnerable – asking for help. It might seem like a sign of weakness, but it’s not. It’s a sign of strength and emotional intelligence as well as a smart business practice. Be the best protege you can be with these five tips.
This is number one for a reason. You have to be 100% authentically yourself! You cannot expect to grow in your career if you pretend to be someone you’re not.
2. Be open to learning
Soak up all the knowledge you can from your mentor. Be open to it. Don’t go into this thinking you already know everything.
3. Manage your expectations
Remember that your mentor is likely a busy professional. Understand that they are committed to advising you, but you need to respect the relationship.
4. Practice gratitude
Be so thankful for this wonderful, life-changing opportunity. Thank your mentor for their time.
5. Work hard
A mentor can only get you so far. You have to do the work to succeed. Show your mentor that you respect their guidance by following advice and making things happen for yourself.
“Driven by fear, I worked hard in Hospitality supporting myself through school. I moved to Toronto from northern Ontario at age 20 with hopes and a dream that there was something better for me here. I landed a job with MLSE in 2006 and by 2008, I had met my Yoda, Geoff Bagg, who hired me to work for his staffing firm. I had no idea what a staffing firm was and had to Google it. He believed in me before I believed in myself and I began to heal through the corporate world, EMDR therapy, and by surrounding myself with good people. There’s a wise truth in the saying; “it takes a village to raise a child” and I would not be the owner of Staff Shop today if it wasn’t for servant leaders like him who cleared the path for me to seize opportunities and grow. Some of the profound lessons I learned from my Yoda are; give people grace, NEVER give up and enjoy the ride because it all works out in the end, the way it should.”
Listen to Jennifer’s Full Story HERE
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“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg