A mentor helps a boy with schoolwork

9 tips on being a good mentor

Good mentoring relationships can be richly rewarding, not only for the mentee, but for the mentor as well. Through our research, United Way of Calgary and Area identified mentorship as a key element to help prevent vulnerable youth from “falling through the cracks.”

If you are considering becoming a mentor, here are some helpful tips:

1. Be accessible
Taking on the role of a mentor requires focus and significant energy and time. By leveraging phone email  and the occasional lunchtime chat session, your communication stream will be in great shape.

2. Strive to be a positive role model
Good mentors are respected by their mentees. A mentee can learn a lot from their mentor simply by watching how their mentor behaves in any particular situation. Good mentors will also look out for experiences, or even create situations in which their mentees can become involved to learn new things.

3. Share what makes you an individual
Share your experiences and your failures. By getting personal, you can build a stronger relationship with your mentee. Answer any questions as openly and truthfully as you can, and choose stories and experiences that you feel are appropriate and helpful.

4. Show genuine interest in your mentee
A mentoring relationship is often very important to the mentee, so as a mentor, you need to get to know your mentee personally. Learn about their hopes and dreams so you can help them in a way that meets their personal best interest. Be objective, be patient and listen. By understanding what matters to your mentee, you can help them achieve their personal, educational and professional goals.

5. Share your network
Introduce your mentee to your network, as it may help them discover new learning opportunities, other professional contacts, job projects, additional mentors and much more!

6. Act as a sounding board
Mentees benefit greatly from the opportunity of having a good mentor listen to them. Allow them to explore their thoughts and ideas openly with you. This will often help them unravel their thinking and gain insights about a situation as they share their concerns with you.

7. Bring a fresh perspective
A good mentor can often provide their mentee with a fresh perspective on an issue.  Being more removed from an issue or problem can allow the mentor to provide objective feedback to their mentee.

8. Provide helpful feedback and acknowledge achievements
Not all feedback is necessarily helpful. A good mentor knows this and will deliver it in a constructive way that helps their mentee further develop specific qualities or skills. Always ask for permission to give feedback before doing so. Ask your mentee questions and empower them to work through their issues so they can learn to trust their own judgement.  Additionally, help build your mentee’s confidence by celebrating and acknowledging their achievements.

9. Have fun
Being a mentor is an exhilarating experience. Mentors often learn a great deal about themselves through the course of a mentorship relationship. Remember to make the experience a fun and engaging one for the mentee and for yourself!