When you agree to become a mentor to someone, you’re agreeing to advise them in the thing you’ve already done and are an expert on. For example, you can mentor someone new at work, a student training in your field, a friend through weight loss, and others. The idea is to help them make good choices based on their stated goals. It can be personal or work-related.
When you first start working with someone as their mentor, it’s best to be as formal about setting up the expectations and rules as you can. That way the time you spend mentoring is spent getting things done and not just socializing.
Assess Their Needs
Take time to figure out what they need from you. You can ask them directly so that you know which direction to go. For example, do they need introductions? Do they need to understand something about the career or journey they’re traveling on that you can help them with?
Set Goals Together
On your first meeting, together set goals about what you’ll be doing with your relationship. That way you know what is happening and how it will all work. In some ways being a mentor is a lot like being an AA sponsor in that you’re showing them the ropes of where you’ve been before so they can travel their journey with fewer speedbumps.
Develop a Contact Schedule Together
Preplan your periodic meetups so that you know when you’ll get together so that it’s built into your schedules. It should only be changed due to unforeseen circumstances so that you can really help the person you’re mentoring.
Listen Before Giving Advice
Don’t be too quick to give advice right off the bat. Instead, get to know them better so that you understand the basis by which they use to make their decisions in life.
Lead Them Toward Their Own Decisions
The best choices made are always made by the person. Don’t make choices for them. Don’t tell them what to do but share what you would do while guiding them toward their own decisions.
The biggest thing you can offer someone you’re mentoring is accountability. You can show the people you mentor how to make good decisions, what barriers to avoid, and how to be responsible for your own choices and actions.
One way to become a great mentor is to think about what would have made a good mentor for you when you needed one and try to be the type you required. Of course, also check in with the person you choose to mentor so that you ensure you’re also providing them with what they need.