Mentoring programs help an organization ensure employees are paired with someone to help them through hurdles. These mentoring programs also help the mentees by building stronger relationships to senior management and the mentors by giving them exposure to new perspectives. However, a mentee needs to know when they’ve found a great mentor – whether or not the company appoints them. Here are some signs of a great mentor.
A Great Mentor…
Authentic listening stems from genuine interest. When the mentee speaks, the mentor is focused. The mentor is not multi-tasking, checking mail or thinking of anything, but what the mentee says. This includes not thinking ahead to their response.
“It takes a great man to be a good listener.” ― Calvin Coolidge
2. Tells You What You Need to Hear
Anyone can say what you want to hear and make you feel good. A great mentor tells you what you need to hear. This means their feedback may surprise you or even sting a bit, but it helps the mentee grow.
“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.” -Tony Robbins
3. Gives Constant Feedback
This means not just during the formal, regularly scheduled “mentoring meetings“. Instead, a great mentor reaches out, off-cycle, to see how you’re doing. They give feedback on the little things, as well as the big.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
4. Gets to Know the Mentee Personally
Professional mentoring is only part of the equation. A great mentor knows the mentee on a personal level. They know what you’re objectives in life are, not just at work. The mentor understands the struggles you have on the home front, as well as within the cubicle.
“And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.” – John Kerry
I encourage everyone, regardless of career stage, age or position in life, to find several mentors. If your employer assigns you one and you don’t see these signs in that person, find another. Keep searching until you find at least one, great mentor. You career, and more importantly your life, will be richer for it.