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Mentorship is a key factor when developing employees into highly successful employees. Great mentorship helps instil trust, appreciation, growth, engagement, and most importantly, increases employees overall confidence. Moreover, great mentorship helps build employees into leaders.
For instance, NBA star Isaiah Thomas was able to grow into a team leader thanks to the mentoring, direction and freedom to play his game when he was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2015.
He explains, “The biggest difference is in the leadership. It was better for us. We had more coaches and mentors to help us. A lot of the younger players today suffer from a lack of direction.” When employees are armed with invested leadership and mentorship, the more likely they will thrive.
What is a mentor? Simply put, a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser who trains employees or students. In addition, how to be a mentor will vary from person to person, but having an open mind and giving support should always be present within mentorship.
But, what makes a good mentor that truly benefits employees? Below are five mentorship tactics and how they can build confidence in others, whether you’re in a leadership position or training a fellow employee.
1. Establish Goals Early
Before you begin to train or educate your mentee, take the time to first lay out what you both want to accomplish. Laying out expectations is also important if you are still getting to know your mentee; furthermore, it creates accountability with both parties.
2. Get to Know Your Mentee
Along with establishing goals, find ways that can better strengthen your relationship as you begin your mentorship. Meet in person, make it informal by grabbing coffee or ice cream together—the goal is to get to know each other on a personal level. You should come out of the meeting knowing more about their personality, likes/dislikes and how they communicate with others.
Another important factor when getting to know your mentee is to really listen to what they have to say. Don’t feel that because you’re the mentor, you have to dominate the conversation. Instead, take the backseat and ask thoughtful questions to show respect while at the same time, learning something new about your mentee.
3. Give Advice at the Right Time
As a mentor, giving advice is your number one priority. What do we mean when we say to give advice at the right time? Really it comes down to your mentee and what mentorship tactics will work best for them. Advice and feedback doesn’t always have to be immediate. In fact, good feedback often depends on the timing. At the end of the day, you should always be supportive, but you also want to help your mentee learn on their own.
4. Show Approval
Especially if you want more engagement on the mentee side, it’s vital that you celebrate their achievements. Recognition is a simple tactic that can help increase engagement and overall confidence. Anne Sweeney, former President of Disney/ABC Television Group explains, “I think the greatest thing we give each other is encouragement…knowing that I’m talking to someone in this mentoring relationship who’s interested in the big idea here is very, very important to me. I think if it were just about helping me get to the next step, it would be a heck of a lot less interesting.”
Don’t feel like you need to go over the top when recognizing your mentee’s hard work. In fact, think more in terms on how you can make the recognition more personable, such as sending a quick email or giving a quick shout out at a department or company meeting.
At the same time, have a plan in place in case your mentee falls short of expectations. Don’t get discouraged, but rather find ways to encourage them so they can continue in their growth.
5. Be a Role Model
Lastly, like great leaders, mentors need to practice what they preach. David Parnell, legal consultant, communication coach and author explains, “Your goal is to not only provide direction and advice, but to get your mentee to act upon them. And while conversations can be motivating, few things are more impactful than to lead by example. A mentor’s mantra must be: ‘Do as I do, not just as I say.’”
Part of the learning process for your mentee will be to observe and pick up on your work habits and leadership qualities. As such, you need to exhibit positive behavior even during stressful times because your mentee will be observing your behavior and actions. As you mentor, work to be an example of who the mentee should be like.
At the end of the day, these tips will help you on your quest to support employees, build their confidence and ultimately, bring out the best in them. Increasing an employee’s confidence is critical in their career progression. Armed with confidence, employees become more motivated, creative in ideation as well as problem solving, and can face challenges head on.