Mentorship skills are vital for any professional working in this field. Aside from the ability to listen effectively and help people, this type of experience will enhance your resume. For every person who is pursuing a career, the knowledge and guidance of a good mentor are essential.
Yet, mentoring skills go beyond giving advice and answering questions. You’ll have to develop a variety of abilities and practices.
Therefore, before starting to work as a professional mentor, you need to assess your skills. Clarify your availability, competence, and abilities before offering your services.
Some of these mentoring skills are non-negotiable and are key both for you and your mentees. Here are 12 mentoring skills that you need to develop if you want to improve your expertise.
12 Mentoring Skills That Will Help You Provide the Best Experience
Ability to Listen Effectively and Follow Up
Active listening is one of the key virtues of successful mentors. Actually, this is the basis upon which every professional builds other skills. It’s important to prove that you hear and understand people’s concerns.
Here are some facts that will help you assess your ability to listen attentively:
- Ask open-ended questions. You can use questions such as “Why did you decide to major in physics?” and “What are your short- and long-term goals?”
- After listening to your mentee’s response, ask follow-up questions to demonstrate that you care.
- In case you don’t understand something, paraphrasing is a good resource. Paraphrase what the mentee said and see if you understood correctly.
- After discussing an issue, make sure to follow up and find out how the solution is progressing.
Teaching and Development
All mentors at some point have to instruct or teach something. Especially in formal mentorship, this ability is essential. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to lecture your clients or give them a speech. You can also promote development through informal instruction, conveying ideas and promoting processes. In some cases, you’ll have to model specific behaviors.
An effective mentor …
- … is a “learning broker.” In other words, they help mentees find resources. This includes professionals, software, books, websites, etc.
- … teaches new skills and knowledge. You can achieve this by providing examples, asking provoking questions, and proposing new attitudes.
- … helps people broaden their perspectives in every area of their lives. This works for history, work, culture, values, and politics.
- … demonstrates effective behavioral models and explains why they do what they do.
Develop Your Empathy
By being aware of other people’s feelings and emotions, you’ll be nurturing your mentoring skills. The definition of empathy is to “put oneself in someone else’s shoes,” or to imagine how you would feel in their situation. Empathy is characterized by emotional intelligence, active listening, and demonstration of interest.
Thus, this is one of the key skills for a successful mentoring relationship. Apart from understanding what the other person feels and wants, you can communicate more effectively. You can sense what your mentees need and find the right words for each moment.
Although empathy is largely intuitive, you can develop it, as with any other skill. Consider the following:
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your mentee.
- Listen attentively and make this your priority.
- Notice body language.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable if necessary.
- Help others by taking action.
Maintain Your Focus
Mentorship is a part of life, and every successful mentor should understand this. Although most of the process involves nice moments, there will be many challenges and drawbacks. Being part of your daily routine, mentorship requires you to be attentive. Use the following tips to maintain a clear focus at all times:
- Help your mentees to identify what’s important in a given situation.
- Encourage conversation and make each of your mentees worth it.
- Focus on important subjects like career, professional development, and building confidence.
- Be ready to notice distractions or other issues that may affect the mentoring progress.
- Keep your focus on subjects that are important for the person’s success. This may include challenging topics. For example, your mentee may be prone to procrastinating or avoiding
Build an Authentic Mentoring Relationship
Among other things, the Emergence International Organization proposes that mentors must build authentic relationships. But it’s important to understand what this means.
A mentoring relationship must be based on mutual respect and trust. Both parties must connect and respect each other. Naturally, the process won’t work if this is faked. If it’s not authentic, the relationship will eventually fall apart.
If you want to create a solid bond with your mentee, make sure you nurture skills like trustworthiness. Also, always be transparent.
Organize Your Affairs
One of the key skills for successful mentors is organization. Your ability to organize your tasks, routines, and schedules is vital. A firm orientation towards the goal always helps. Also, you must be detail-oriented and have the ability to set and keep deadlines.
Organization techniques will be useful to help you choose relevant knowledge, experiences, and resources to support your mentees.
Help Overcome Barriers and False Limits
As a companion to the mentee, you have to help them remove obstacles. The progress may have its roadblocks, and it’s your job to detect them. Encourage people to overcome false limits and similar barriers. Here is some advice that can be useful:
- Be professionally aware by asking the following questions: How do you read a profit and loss account? What is the difference between innovation and creativity?
- Provide connections: Develop a network of people who might be able to assist.
- Help people overcome barriers based on limited thinking. For instance, “I can’t run my own business because I don’t have the right background.”
Every good mentor must help people make progress when it comes to achieving their goals. Empower them and give them tools to deal with challenges.
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What differentiates a great mentor from a regular one is the ability to inspire others. It’s important to set a good example and help mentees to experience other sources of inspiration. Show them new paths that will motivate them. Thus, they can even take their goals beyond their original dreams. If you want to inspire people, follow this advice:
- Show them examples of other inspiring people.
- Arrange motivational experiences.
- Encourage them to achieve important things in their lives.
- Show them the way to recognize inspiring actions that they’ve done in the past.
- Make sure that your actions are inspiring.
However, keep in mind that their goals are not yours. Don’t make them follow in your footsteps; instead, help them find their own path. The concept of greatness and success varies for every person.
Build a Relationship Based on Trust and Engagement
Beside giving constructive feedback, an effective mentor supports people. Your relationship must be based on trust. Developing empathy and rapport is vital in this regard.
If you need some advice, carefully read the following list. These practices will help you create an open relationship with your mentee:
- Talk about confidentiality. Also, confirm that everything you discuss during sessions will not be shared with third parties. This can change if the mentee gives consent.
- After the sessions, make sure you maintain your principles intact. Make sure you don’t say things about your mentees that could make them feel uncomfortable.
- If necessary, share your own personal information. This includes your family, work, hobbies, and interests.
- Know your mentees. You must understand what motivates them. By knowing what they like and dislike, you can build rapport more easily.
Align Goals With Expectations
A mentee is a project in the best sense of the word; you must help them set realistic goals. Naturally, you have to create expectations accordingly.
Mentorship skills involve working towards a goal. It’s your job to align the mentee’s goals with their aspirations and abilities. By considering these factors, you avoid frustrations for both of you.
Remember that the person can feel when they need more challenges, and the mentor might feel that they are wasting time. Try to avoid this at all costs.
This is where communication skills prove to be valuable. Patience also goes a long way. Listening is an important part of the process so that you understand what the mentee’s actual expectations are.
Help People Grow
This is one of your main responsibilities as a mentor. Mentoring skills are vital to helping a person grow. Self-reflection also plays an important role.
With your help, mentees can …
- … increase their awareness and knowledge.
- ..,. become more mature. In other words, they improve their emotional balance.
- … gain perspective and broaden their points of view. Thus, they can draw upon these new concepts.
Without a good mentor, self-reflection and learning only happen based on someone’s natural tendencies. In this regard, mentoring helps the person grow, and mentoring sessions encourage this. The mentor will influence the topics of the discussion and drive the person toward new conclusions.
Analyzing your mentee’s patterns and behaviors is key, and the best way to do this is with observation. This practice will give you the analytical skills that you need. Thus, you can design the right strategy to work with a particular person.
Teaching new skills is part of your work as a mentor, and for this, you need to know the individual well. Once you create your strategies, you can use them to communicate more effectively. As a result, the connection will be stronger, and you can enhance the learning experience.
Provide Advice and Constructive Feedback
Providing feedback is vital for a smooth mentoring process. Remember that you have to be open, but choose the right moments. Don’t give negative feedback until your relationship is strong enough.
- Give feedback on how to improve but balance it with praise.
- Focus on behavioral patterns that the person can change. Also, focus on behavior that is appropriate within the environment (organization, company, etc.).
- Make sure that the mentee sets the initial objectives. Then, you can give feedback and suggestions.
- To avoid frustration, make sure that the goals are realistic and specific. Create a plan that includes time frames and monitor progress. Be ready to adapt the plan when necessary.
- Work on the person’s problem-solving skills. When issues arise, work with your mentee to find solutions.
- Consider other ways to get advice. Widen your network by using the ASHA community.
Even if you have the most harmonious relationship with your mentee, conflicts will arise. It can be a clash in personalities or a disagreement concerning the plan. Either way, you have to manage it properly; this can break your relationship or strengthen it.
Conflict management is one of the most important mentoring skills. If any issue should arise between you and your mentee, you must be able to solve it.
Thus, conflict management helps you find the right way of interaction while offering new points of view. You’ll have to be empathic to understand the person’s state of mind and address them respectfully. If you achieve this, you can rest assured that your relationship will stay strong.
The last one of our mentoring skills is self-management. Self-management is the ability to govern your behavior and emotions. Naturally, this will help you build a professional image and nurture trust. Here are some tips that you can use:
- Respond with empathy, even if the mentee’s points of view are different from yours.
- Make sure you fulfill your responsibilities. This includes attending regular sessions, showing up on time, etc.
- Organize the goals and time frames and abide by deadlines.
On an ending note, I’ll leave this video below on how to be a great mentor:
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