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What is a Mentor?

Posted on 18/12/2020
What is a Mentor?

Mentoring allows one person to seek guidance and support from another, so they can adapt and improve to overcome challenges.

It is a relationship between two people; the mentor and the mentee. One that is designed to question and encourage the mentee to take control and shape their lives for the better.

Mentoring relationships can take place anywhere and come in many forms. However, more commonly they are used in the workplace to help employees achieve and succeed.

Mentoring doesn’t fall into the same category as training, teaching or coaching. As a mentor, you don’t need to be a qualified trainer or an expert in the role the mentee performs.

You’ll help each person work toward individual objectives. Getting them to think about issues and approaches differently to introduce them to alternate perspectives. Imparting wisdom and motivating them throughout their journey.

Your guidance can help someone advance in their career, tackle specific work projects, or take on life’s general challenges. Each relationship you have will be dynamic, personal and fluid. Suiting the needs of each mentee and adapting as these change over time.

Mentoring is a rewarding experience for both mentor and mentee. Through this relationship, both parties gain an enriched perspective that can have many positive and lasting effects.

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Duties of a Mentor

Mentors are experienced and trusted advisers who support others in reaching their full potential. The relationships you have are typically long-term, as you help mentees discover solutions to the problems they face.

You’ll generally follow a process in which the relationship becomes established, progresses and ultimately ends. This tends to follow a pattern such as the below:

Initial Meeting

You’ll meet with the mentee to get to know them and discuss their aims. You will explain the purpose of the relationship, the meeting format and how they work. Discussing your role and commitments, as well as what is expected from the mentee. 

Mentor Sessions

Each session can be different depending on the issue being discussed and the progress of the individual.

However, you’ll generally review the mentee’s experience, identify objectives, strengths and achievements. You’ll provide feedback and discuss areas for development, exploring possible actions and setting targets.

Each session creates an opportunity for the mentees to gain experience and confidence in their ability.

Moving On

You’ll identify when the relationship is coming to an end, reviewing and signing off objectives as each is reached. In the lead up to the final session, you will help the mentee identify further steps they need to take. Then take the time to review the effectiveness of the relationship together.

In your role, you’ll typically need to:

  • Listen
  • Be a sounding board
  • Ask questions that develop both parties understanding of a situation or problem
  • Offer different perspectives
  • Encourage self-reflection
  • Provide support and encouragement
  • Help mentees identify areas for development
  • Discuss ways you overcame challenges in your work and career
  • Provide advice on career development

You’ll use your experience and knowledge to support the development of the mentee. Though ultimately, it is the mentee who must put things into place and take action to improve.

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Benefits of Mentoring

It isn’t just the mentee who benefits from the mentoring relationship. The mentor and the organisation encouraging the relationship can reap many benefits too. In a workplace environment these can be:

Mentees

  • Are more self-confident and motivated
  • Feel supported and challenged in the workplace
  • Formulate a clear sense of personal direction
  • Have a source of knowledge and experience to tap into
  • Can discuss ideas and approaches comfortably before taking action
  • Are more likely to think about things differently, considering other perspectives

Mentors

  • Gain confidence as their knowledge, strengths and abilities are recognised
  • Sense of achievement through helping others reach their goals
  • A rewarding and satisfying job
  • Increased recognition from peers
  • Continually challenged and stimulated
  • On-going learning and self-development
  • Increased responsibility resulting in higher pay

Organisations

  • More motivated employees
  • Employees with ambition having a clear direction and objectives
  • Better communication within the business
  • Employees more regularly sharing knowledge, experiences and best practice
  • Innovation and an improved way of working

learndirect - the benefits of mentoring

Skills and Experience

A good mentor will enjoy seeing others succeed and will be enthusiastic about making their success a reality. This behaviour is essential if the mentoring relationship is to deliver the desired outcome.

Besides this, other skills and experience you need to be a mentor are:

Self-Awareness – Recognising your own strengths and development needs.

Organisational know-how – Understanding how things work within the business and expected behaviours.

Credibility – Leading by example and adopting desired behaviours so you are personally and professionally credible.  

Accessibility – Be able and prepared to dedicate enough time to mentor others.

Communication – Having excellent communication skills and the ability to understand the ideas and feelings of others.

Inspirational & Empowering – Encouraging positive and desired behaviours in mentees and empowering them to lead and take on more responsibility.  

Developmental Understanding – You’ll help others develop but also understand how everyone develops differently. Ideally having demonstratable experience of helping others improve.

Resourcefulness – Adapting your technique to each mentee, being open to new methods and different ways of working.

Empathy – Having the ability to empathise with others.

Open-Mindedness – Open to different perspectives, approaches and backgrounds of mentees.

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Become a Mentor

Working as a mentor is both challenging and rewarding. You’re constantly finding new ways to bring out the best in people and help them achieve greater success in life.

You’ll help shape the people you work with into the leaders of tomorrow. Giving them the confidence and ability to pursue their professional goals. With effective help, they can experience both life and career-changing benefits.

You can gain the skills and knowledge to mentor others by studying online. The ILM Level 3 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring (Mentoring Pathway) teaches you everything needed to get started.

By studying this course, you’ll learn how to develop yourself and others. Understanding exactly what’s needed to be an effective mentor and improve performance in your workplace.

The course is studied from home and can be completed in just a few months. Meaning you can be quickly on the way to pursuing a mentorship role in your business.

learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online course providers. Offering a broad range of courses to help you achieve your personal or professional goals.

Take the next step toward helping yourself and others succeed by enrolling in our online mentoring course today.

learndirect - How to become a mentor