Friday, January 17, 2020

Mentoring relationships

Need to know tips for becoming a great mentor to young professionals

So, you're taking the plunge and becoming a mentor to a young professional. That's wonderful! After all, mentoring programs help guide members of the next generation toward achieving success in their chosen fields. By providing your counsel and support, you'll not only be helping to shape the career of your less-experienced colleague, but you'll also be fostering a beneficial professional relationship that can last far beyond the actual mentoring itself.

Knowing all this, many people wonder how they can better mentor their younger colleagues. It's simple. A great mentor sets a good example, listens to their protégé, offers well-rounded advice, acts as a colleague, and provides independence-building opportunities. Read on to learn more about how each of these five suggestions can help you become a great mentor to a young professional.

1. Set a good example.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when mentoring a young professional is the significance of setting a good example. Your protégé will likely look to you as they seek to understand workplace protocols, etiquette, and expectations, so be sure to set a good example from the start, so they can settle into their position and see exactly what is required of them to adequately fulfill their duties.

2. Listen to your protégé.

The most effective mentors understand that mentoring is a two-way street. Though your knowledge and experiences will be vital to helping your protégé become a more productive member of the team, don't forget that your protégé likely has valuable insights for you, as well. Strive for two-way communication and learn from your protégé. By doing so, you can form a mutually-beneficial professional relationship that extends beyond the mentoring.

3. Offer well-rounded advice.

Some mentors become so focused on one aspect of the job that they fail to extend their mentoring beyond that one area. Don't fall into this trap. Great mentors are those who offer well-rounded mentoring advice in both a professional and personal capacity. By providing guidance and support that is well-rounded and robust, you'll be giving your protégé a much better chance at achieving success in both their professional and personal lives.

4. Act as a colleague, not a superior.

Successful mentoring programs require communication. To help keep those lines of communication open, mentors should always act as a colleague, not a superior. Mentors who choose to act as superiors tend to be more intimidating to young professionals, which can effectively shut down the lines of communication. A loss of communication will prevent you from successfully sharing your expertise and counsel, thus significantly hampering your mentoring efforts.

5. Provide independence-building opportunities.

While it's admirable that you want to share your knowledge and advice with others, being a truly great mentor requires that you also allow for your young protégé to fly solo at times. As your less-experienced colleague becomes more comfortable in their new position, guide them toward taking on additional responsibilities while providing them with enough decision-making opportunities to bolster their independence and confidence to improve their problem-solving skills. Remember, successful mentoring relationships are ones that advance to the point where your protégé no longer needs your constant support.

Many factors should be considered when mentoring young professionals. After all, your mentoring could be what makes or breaks a person's career. Thankfully, there are many ways to become a better mentor to your less-experienced colleague. By setting a good example, listening to your protégé, offering well-rounded advice, acting as a colleague, and providing independence-building opportunities, anyone can become a great mentor to a young professional.

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