Skills for Mentoring
To be a good mentor, you need similar skills to those used in coaching , with one big difference – you must have experience relevant to the mentee’s situation. This can be technical experience, management experience, or simply life experience.
To be an effective mentor, you need to:
Have the desire to help – you should be willing to spend time helping someone else, and remain positive throughout.
Be motivated to continue developing and growing – your own development never stops. To help others develop, you must value your own growth too. Many mentors say that mentoring helps them with their own personal development.
Have confidence and an assured manner – we don’t mean overconfidence or a big ego. Rather, you should have the ability to critique and challenge mentees in a way that’s non-threatening, and helps them look at a situation from a new perspective.
Ask the right questions – the best mentors ask questions that make the mentee do the thinking. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. A simple guide is to think of what you want to tell the mentee, and to find a question that will help the mentee come to the same conclusion on their own. To do this, try asking open questions that cannot be answered with just yes or no. Or ask more direct questions that offer several answer options. Then ask the mentee why they chose that particular answer.
Listen actively – be careful to process everything the mentee is saying. Watch body language, maintain eye contact, and understand which topics are difficult for the mentee to discuss. Showing someone that you’re listening is a valuable skill in itself. It shows that you value what the person is saying and that you won’t interrupt them. This requires patience, and a willingness to delay judgment.
Provide feedback – do this in a way that accurately and objectively summarizes what you’ve heard, but also interprets things in a way that adds value for the mentee. In particular, use feedback to show that you understand what the mentee’s thinking approach has been. This is key to helping the mentee see a situation from another perspective.