Stepping into the role of mentor means more than just giving advice. It means taking interest in the goals of your mentee and using your skills and experience to help them achieve these goals. In many cases, the relationship between mentor and mentee grows to become not only a source for professional advancement, but also a place for personal growth.
The National Mentoring Resource Center explains that “good mentoring may frequently be as much about instrumental support and providing access to opportunities as it is about giving advice or offering emotional support, and programs that use their mentors in a formal advocate role are well positioned to bring a balanced approach to the mentor’s role.”
Do – Encourage your mentee to take initiative.
The National Mentoring Resource Center suggests “mentors must remember to ‘share power’ when it comes to advocating for the mentee and make sure that the youth is driving the action and learning to advocate for themselves too.”
Don’t – Make decisions for or overpower your mentee.
“Optimally, advocacy means that mentors help find solutions and expand possibilities, not inappropriately take control of situations or narrow options,” adds the National Mentoring Resource Center.
Do – Open doors.
Use your network to make connections between your mentee and others they could benefit from. The more, the merrier when it comes to having relationships within your industry or trade.
Don’t – Impose your bias.
Avoid letting negative experiences with another professional or organization dissuade you from introducing your mentee. Your experience may not be their experience and could benefit your mentee.
Do – Get personal.
To know how to advocate for your mentee requires a personal and professional relationship. Not only will you have the ability to speak up for your mentee on a professional level, but you will also be able to make more educated decisions based on what fits their personality, lifestyle, goals or dedications.
Don’t – Take it personal.
There is a fine line between becoming emotionally invested in your mentee’s triumphs or failures and feeling as though you are personally responsible for their career. As a mentor, you are there to guide and encourage; what your mentee does or does not do has no reflection on your professional success.
A mentor is a beneficial and highly respected status in professional environments. For a mentee to feel comfortable coming to you for guidance means they trust you to use your voice, network and power to advocate for them. Putting in the work and standing up for your mentee could mean the difference between a mediocre and a spectacular professional relationship.