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10 Mentoring Tips To Help You Become a Better Mentor.

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A mentor's job is to guide, shape and nurture the leaders of tomorrow. In such a competitive field misinformation is rife and effective practices can get lost in the wind. 

It’s a mentor's job to identify the best ways to work with young people so they can go pursue their wildest dreams. 

So strap yourself in and get comfortable as we give you 10 invaluable tips on mentoring that you can start using today.

#1 Establish Goals and Expectations

Everybody has a dream but only a few have plans. 

Or as the Greek philosopher Epictetus says, ‘If you know not which port you sail, then no wind is favourable.’ 

Goal setting has been a part of pop culture for as long as I can remember. And so it should. 

Goals convey ambition. 

Studies show that people who set goals are 43% more likely to achieve them tipping the odds of success in their favour.

So how do you go about goal setting? 

From the start of your mentoring relationship, you should encourage open dialogue.

The aim is to ask thought-provoking questions to elicit specific answers from your mentee. When they open up, you want them to feel as free as a bird. You want them to be able to share their wildest dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future.

And from there you can backwards to uncover the actions they need to engage in to bring their dreams to fruition. 

#2 Open Communication

Humans differ from person to person. Your interests, hobbies and passions are unique to you. 

Active listening is one of the best ways to create safe spaces.

As the saying goes, ‘You have two ears and one mouth, listen more than you speak.’ Although mentors might find it tempting to interrupt mentees or to dominate a conversation they must learn to refrain from doing so. 

Remember, you’re there to help make their future a reality and not to impose your will.

Let your mentee lead the conversation, while you, take a step back and guide.

#3 Constructive Criticism

Nobody likes to hear their work or efforts weren’t up to scratch.

It’s like taking a punch to the face. 

However, the ability to take feedback is the difference between success and failure. Like it or not, feedback needs to become your mentee’s best friend, otherwise, they’ll fall at the first sign of confrontation. 

But there are ways to go about it. Base your feedback around these 3 things if you want it to be effective. 

First, it needs to be thoughtful. 

A child’s self-esteem is fragile. So you have to be careful with what you say. 

Congratulate them on their efforts but then offer them feedback where you think they can improve instead of telling them how wrong they’ve got it. 

You want to motivate not dishearten them. 

What you need to do next is provide actionable feedback. There’s no point in criticising someone's efforts if you don’t have a plan to help them improve the next time around. 

You want your mentee to be able to leave the session with immediate steps they can take. 

The final thing to do is to ask your mentee where you think they went wrong. You design a feedback loop so people don’t make the same mistakes twice. You want them to learn and grow from their experiences. 

Yes, feedback is painful but it’s one of the most critical and conducive parts to anyone’s growth. 

Get them to embrace it.

#4 Encourage Ownership

You don’t want to hold your mentee’s hand throughout the entire process. 

First, you want to teach them how to crawl, then maybe walk. But you want them to run on their own.

Self-development means what it says. You have to do the work, not anyone else.

Encourage your young person to begin setting their own personal and development goals. Give them more autonomy when it comes to devising plans and allow them the freedom to take the initiative when they see fit. 

Mentoring isn’t about formulating rigid structures where mentors rule the roost. 

It’s about creating an environment which champions independence, self-sufficiency and courage.

#5 Share your experience

This might be one of the most overlooked aspects of mentoring.

Mentors have experience in abundance. And when I refer to experience I don’t mean in their specific field. 

I mean in life. 

You’ve all been through your fair share of trials and tribulations no matter how big. And these insights can be used to help provide real-life examples to help assist your mentee on their journey.

You never know, the things you share about your life experience could help to ignite a flame. It could bring a much-needed perspective to a rather bleak situation. 

Plus it makes you relatable.

#6 Guide, don’t solve

I see it time and time again not only in the mentoring world but in life itself. 

Parents handholding and spoonfeeding their kids the answers to life. Not letting them experience the challenges life has to offer. 

It seems like the right way to go about things, but it’s not. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I get it, you want your mentee to succeed. You want them to do well in life. 

But ask yourself this. How are they going to cope when you’re not around? 

How are they going to navigate challenges without you by their side? The truth is, they won’t.

Stop providing the answers and start guiding them.

Instead of ready-made solutions ask questions to help them develop in important areas such as:

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem-solving

  • Self-agency

If you can help your mentee develop in these 3 areas then the sky is the limit. 

#7 Grow through what you go through

If you haven’t heard about the growth mindset in 2023 you must be living under a rock. 

To understand the importance of a growth mindset you have to first start by understanding its little brother.

The fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset is what it says on the tin. It’s fixed, you’re unable to change it or move it in any direction. People with this mindset see life as a zero-sum game. They’re not happy with the cards they were dealt, but out of sheer ignorance, they refuse to do anything about it. 

Conversely, you have those with a growth mindset. The doers. The people who think they can achieve their wildest dreams. These are the type of people you want your mentees to become. 

Those with a growth mindset embrace challenge as an opportunity. They know that the initial phase will be difficult, but in the back of their minds, they know it’ll be worth it in the end. 

Teaching your mentees to cultivate a growth mindset will lead them to: 

  • Become life long-learners

  • Foster unshakeable resilience

  • See obstacles as opportunities

The quality of your mentee’s life depends on the quality of their thoughts. 

There are two types of people in life. 

Those who think they can and those who think they can’t. And guess what? 

They’re both right. 

#8 Celebrate even the small wins

When you embark on a journey to reach the top of the mountain it can be daunting. The path to the top looks difficult and unattainable. Some days you’re up for the challenge and other days you’re not. 

The same goes for your mentee. The journey they’re about to embark on won’t be straightforward. It’s going to be filled with bumps, humps, twists and turns. 

Some days they’re going to come to your sessions disheartened and ready to quit. But it’s your job to ensure they don’t. When moments like this arise you need to help your mentee to zoom out and take a bigger look at things. 

It’s easy for someone to get lost in the day-to-day activities to the point they forget about all the progress they’ve made.

Learn to celebrate success no matter what.

Praising even the smallest of wins will help to boost confidence and morale giving them the fuel they need to maintain their progress. You have to remind your mentee that nothing ever happens overnight.

You have to show up every day and stack another brick. 

Over time, it will all pay off. 


#9 Network & Exposure

‘Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.’

Your environment dictates how your life will pan out. 

This is why mentors should encourage networking. 

Young adults are still at the stage in their lives where the things they believe and value can be influenced.

Encouraging mentees to look outside of their immediate circles creates the opportunity for them to find and meet people who help to broaden their outlook on life.

Don’t throw them into the deep end on their own. Help them ease into it. Take them to events. You can even set them a task of trying to talk to at least one new person every day. 

A lot of people think networking is futile, but when done properly the effects can be profound.

#10 If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter

Pressure nowadays is immense and overwhelming.

Young people have to deal with the pressures of social media, their immediate networks and even their families. It’s a lot for one child to deal with while still having to go to school and get a good education. 

So how do you help an overwhelmed child lift the weight of their shoulders? 

Simple. Practice mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is all about managing one's emotions. It’s about gaining control over your feelings so you rule them and not the other way around. People who can master this enjoy a freedom you could only imagine. 

So give your mentee a headstart. 

Mindfulness comes in all different shapes and sizes, but the simplest forms are things such as journaling, meditation and walks in nature. 

Don’t know where to start?

Here are some simple practices you can get them to follow:

Overthinking → write.

Anxious → meditate.

Stressed → walk.

Mindfulness isn’t designed to be difficult, it’s designed to help you alleviate internal struggles. If it wasn’t simple it would cause more problems than it solves. 

But with anything worthwhile, you won’t see results overnight.

Help your mentee to develop patience. 

Or better yet, why not try it with them? 

Finishing off

Mentoring is built on trust.

It’s a long-term game you have to learn to play with whoever your mentee is. There are no quick fixes, problems won't get solved overnight.

But if you use the practices above I can almost guarantee you'll start to make a lasting impact.

It won’t be quick. It won’t be easy. But it’ll be worth it.

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