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“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
Would you like to become a good mentor and run effective mentoring sessions? Then you’re in the right place! There’s no doubt that volunteering as a mentor for young people means that you’ll be making a difference in their lives. Mentors are there to guide their mentees through life’s challenges so that they can work towards reaching their full potential.
Being a great mentor means showing up for your mentee and giving them all you’ve got during your sessions. It takes planning and dedication, and a whole lot of patience and care. Like with all things, you can become an excellent mentor with some practice and there are always ways that we can improve.
At GT Scholars, we want to help you to become the best mentor you can possibly be! That’s why we’ve written this guide on the qualities of a great mentor and how you can run successful mentoring programs. We hope that this will be the start of an amazing journey between you and your future mentees!
The Qualities of a Good Mentor
If you’re wondering what you can do to be a great mentor then you’re already halfway there! While there are many qualities of a good mentor, here are some of the ones that we feel are really important.
You might find that you have these qualities already! If so, that’s great, and if not, don’t worry. We’re here to help you to become the best mentor you can be!
They Have a Positive Outlook
A good mentor is aware of their emotions and filters. So they make a conscious effort to look at things in a positive way. You won’t be able to influence your mentee to think positively if you have not learned to develop a positive attitude yourself. Take some time to learn about and improve your outlook on things and make sure you’re thinking positively.
One aspect that can help is to focus on developing your emotional intelligence. People who are emotionally intelligent understand their emotions and know how to use and manage their feelings in positive ways, especially in difficult situations. They are also better at managing their relationships with others. It is for this reason that good mentors are also emotionally intelligent.
Apart from having a positive outlook on things, you also want to be a positive role model! Your mentee will learn a lot from you by simply observing how you handle different situations.
They’ll pick up on your standards, ethics, values, and attitudes and they’re likely to follow your lead and adapt to your approach because of the nature of your relationship with them. So it’s important to make sure you’re modelling a positive attitude.
Mentors who make the biggest impact are enthusiastic! They are more likely to get their mentee excited about their sessions. Learning is also more memorable when it is related to an emotion, which is why mentees are more likely to enjoy and remember their sessions when their mentor is enthusiastic.
What does enthusiasm look like? You want to be the mentor that gets excited to share knowledge, wisdom, and expertise with your mentee. Being enthusiastic doesn’t mean being inhuman and permanently putting up a front. It means being passionate about what you can do to help your mentee to the best of your ability.
It means being prepared and going the extra mile to show your mentee that you care about your role as their mentor. If you, as a mentor, always show enthusiasm towards your sessions, this attitude will rub off and your mentee will start looking forward to their sessions with you.
They’re a Good Listener
The best mentors give good advice only because they listened to their mentee’s needs first. You need to be open to listening to your mentee so that you know which direction to guide them in.
How can you do this? A good mentoring relationship is built on asking questions rather than telling your mentee what to do all the time. This is a lot easier said than done! As a mentor, you will have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to what your mentee is saying instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next.
Show that you are interested in what they think by asking yourself what they are up to and why? Listening to your mentee will help you to build understanding with them; the type of person they are, their likes and dislikes, and get to know them on a deeper level. Knowing your mentee on this level will help you conduct the best mentoring sessions.
They Give Honest Feedback
A good mentor will know how to give honest feedback to their mentees. You can use the sandwich principle when you are giving honest feedback. That means that you start by telling your mentee something positive first. Then, you give them feedback and suggestions without them feeling attacked. Finally, you end off by saying something positive again.
This will help your mentee to see that you are not trying to hurt their feelings, but that you care enough to be honest. You can also share your experience with your mentee. This is a great way to send a message without criticizing them directly. For example, tell them about a mistake you made and how you learned from it. Help your mentee to see the wisdom in not making the same mistakes that you did.
Your approach should be to make them feel less criticism and help them to understand that you have their best interest at heart. As your relationship grows over the term, they’ll trust you more and learn to accept your feedback and work on improving in those areas.
A good mentor is someone who is empathetic. It’s vital to be able to relate to your mentees and understand their perspective and feelings. Empathy will help you understand how your mentee feels and how to best approach a mentoring session with them. It requires effort as you will need to listen more and appreciate that your mentee is different from you and in the way they think and feel.
You have different strengths, interests, backgrounds and experiences. Be careful not to expect your mentee to respond the same way you do to different challenges. Empathy will allow you to embrace the differences between you and your mentee.
Your mentee will also feel more accepted and comfortable if they can see you are empathetic towards them. This will improve your mentoring relationship with them and, ultimately, your sessions will be a lot more impactful.
So, you can become a great mentor and foster a good mentoring relationship by following these tips! If you’d also like to discover 7 useful skills you can develop through volunteer mentoring, then check out our blog.
The Qualities of a Great Session
We all hope to make a difference as teachers, tutors and mentors. Running impactful sessions is one way to do that! You may be wondering, what you can do to deliver impactful sessions? We’ll talk about what you can do to run successful mentoring programmes and how to be the best mentor possible!
They are Well Prepared
To run successful mentoring programs, forethought and preparation are key. Sessions become great when mentors put in a great deal of effort. You may not get it right on the first try, but practice makes perfect. Be open to adjusting your planning approach until you find what works for you and your mentee.
The first step to being well prepared is to know what you wish to accomplish from the session beforehand. Have a discussion with your mentee about what the objectives should be. These objectives should be clear and well defined. An example of a clear objective is to help your mentee gain confidence with interpersonal skills, instead of just helping your mentee to gain confidence.
Having these clear goals in mind will help you to monitor your mentee’s progress closely as they can now show they are working on specific goals. At the end of the session, you can review what you accomplished with your mentee and then discuss what you wish to achieve in the next session. This way, sessions will be impactful as they now have clear objectives that need to be reached.
They Have Set Times
Successful mentoring sessions last long enough to be impactful. If the session is too short, you run the risk of not accomplishing anything. If the session is too long, your mentee may lose interest in the mentoring sessions. As a guideline, a mentoring session should last between 1 and 2 hours.
Discuss the timing of the session with your mentee to maximise the time you spend together. Remember to also consider your mentee’s interests and learning styles. Some mentees will respond better to shorter, more frequent meetings, while others will find it easier to have longer, more detailed discussions at different times.
Finally, be flexible and leave some room for adjustments. Anything can happen so try not to be too rigid with the schedule.
They Offer New Opportunities
As you get to know your mentee better you will learn more about what they need and what areas need improving. You will now be able to look out for different opportunities that can be beneficial to your mentee. For example, if you know that your mentee has been struggling to choose career options, you could be on the lookout for online career days or virtual workshops that could help them.
While events are great, be careful not to use these as a way to pass the time. Make sure that they are relevant to your mentee’s goals and impactful. You can also look for opportunities to help your mentee overcome their personal challenges, like finding ways to help them with low self-confidence.
A great way to tackle self-esteem challenges is to let your mentee feel like they have control over the mentoring process. Give them chances to get involved and let them know that you value their input and ideas.
They Have a Clear Plan
Mentoring sessions can easily turn into a one-hour long brainstorming session, without achieving much. That’s why successful mentoring sessions are well planned so that you and your mentee know how to structure each session. This will increase how productive your sessions are.
Next, reflect on the progress that your mentee is making. Analysing progress is a good way to see where your mentee has made changes and progress. This could be through celebrating their achievements or a challenge that they have overcome.
When a mentee starts recognising their achievements and progress, they are more likely to engage in their future sessions. They will see the benefits of setting clear objectives and goals and they will feel more confident in the mentoring process.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, becoming a good mentor and running successful mentoring programmes will take time and effort. But it is well worth it! Focus on being empathetic, a good listener, and maintaining positive thoughts about yourself. Not only will these qualities positively impact your mentee, but will have a positive impact on you too!
Remember to always set clear goals and outcomes, stick to a suitable time, and always be on the lookout for opportunities that your mentee can benefit from. Again, this may take some preparation and forethought. The more you put into the session, the more impactful they will be!
If you can focus on working on these approaches and strategies over time, then you’re likely to have impactful sessions that make a huge difference in your mentee’s life!