From Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Gandalf the Grey, to Captain America, the world has thrust the concept of great mentors into our faces; those guides who can lead the next generation of men and women together into the real word. It might be your time to be a mentor to someone who wants to do what you do.
But how do you become a great mentor? It’s a lot of work and responsibility, and you’ve got a big load on your shoulders. However, there are a few rules and guidelines that you can follow to make sure your relationship with your mentee is the best it can be.
The good thing is, you probably know your mentee, either from work or an activity you are both involved in. So, you already have some type of prior relationship to work with, and it’s likely they are willing to learn from you.
Share your Failures
While it’s tempting to talk about all the successes you’ve had in your field, when you do Mentoring for teens the failures are equally important. One of the first goals as a mentor is to steer your mentee away from the pitfalls and mistakes that you made, and that means to communicate with them. You aren’t perfect, and the person you are teaching shouldn’t think you are.
So, offer your failures up, and share what you learned from them. Your mentee will make their own mistakes, and they don’t need to copy yours. If they can understand the choices that lead to you making the mistake, then they can better avoid it.
Understand Your Mentee
Chances are, your mentee came to you to learn something. So, one of the first questions you should ask your mentee is “What do you want out of this partnership?” Take their own goals and desires into the account and tailor your work to go in that direction. Encourage them to ask questions, and be prepared to make a detour in your plan if they need something else.
It’s as much about learning as it is teaching, and if you and your mentee can have a relationship based on that, then it will only be that much stronger.
Understanding is about listening, and you’ll need to listen to your pupil. What do they want out of this relationship? What are they good at, and what are they afraid of? You should know your mentor better than themselves, and use that knowledge to help you out.
Feedback is one of the best tools in a mentor’s arsenal. While you are teaching them about your craft, don’t be afraid to tell them what can be improved. You should never actively discourage your mentee, but pointing out what they did right and did wrong can only make them better people. Feedback needs to be given on both sides, and don’t be afraid to ask your mentee what you can do better.
Becoming a mentor is a lot of responsibility, but it certainly is fun to watch your mentee become a better person.