Mentorship isn’t just a business buzzword. It’s an activity that leads to wellness in all areas of your life. The long-term benefits of mentoring or being mentored were recently studied and proven by W. Brad Johnson, PhD, a psychology professor at the US Naval Academy, who found that those who had been mentored during their time in school “generally perform better in their programs and after they get out of school than students without mentors” as published by the American Psychological Association.
Getting the most out of this partnership can be tricky though There is a delicate balance between doing a task for your mentee, or helping them understand how to successfully do it themselves. Here are some tips to keep in mind when embarking on a mentorship journey:
There are numerous existing studies about the power of positivity. From coping with stress, to improving relationships and focus, cultivating a positive mindset can set you up for success. In a mentoring relationship, it’s important that both parties come in with a positive mindset about the process. As the mentor, make an effort to share positivity and affirmation early and often with your mentee. Verbally expressing encouragement and taking the time to provide constructive criticism are great places to start. As the mentee, there may be moments when you are discouraged because you don’t know something or are having trouble connecting to your mentor. Bringing a positive attitude (especially in those moments) will be the difference between an average mentorship and an exceptional one.
In so many relationships, it’s very easy to hold back giving negative feedback or avoiding hard conversations all together. Yet delaying honesty only makes things more difficult for everyone and deprives the mentee of the feedback they need to get better. That said, being honest is not an excuse for being rude. Always express your concerns in a caring and clear way, rather than in a condescending manner. If you’re intimidated by openness, remind yourself that honesty allows room for growth.
If everyone were perfect, no one would need a mentor. Sometimes scheduling efforts fail or communication stagnates and that’s okay. Continue to stay positive and transparent with your mentor or mentee about how excited you are to spend time with them and the skills you hope to take away from your time together. If a mentee’s progress is taking longer than anticipated and you’re tempted to do the work for them, don’t! A successful mentorship is one that carefully balances accountability and patience.
A strong mentor is one who delivers patience, encouragement and honesty. While it can take time and effort to be an active mentor, remember that you can leave an impact on a mentee that will affect his or her life throughout their career.