Demystify the role of mentor

Role of mentor Mentors contribute their skills, expertise and experience as a gift. They may also wield their influence to open doors for mentees to gain career opportunities.

What’s in it for the mentor?

Perhaps they’re excited to support a rising star. Or they want to continue to learn and grow even after attaining much success. Indeed, mentoring often helps them as much as it helps the individual they’re coaching.

If a mentor’s natural personality is abrasive or cynical, such negativity can cause trouble. Someone who is too judgmental, contemptuous or easily stressed probably isn’t going to model the kind of calm, wise counsel that resonates with mentees.

Exceptional mentors enter into a compact with mentees. They expect their students to do three things: listen with curiosity and earnestness, respond respectfully and seriously consider following their suggestions.

Those who do not listen well, ignore their mentor’s input or fail to follow through are ill equipped to make the relationship work. Experienced mentors know to move on quickly when paired with such individuals.

Meanwhile, mentees can maximize the relationship by respecting their mentor’s time, taking their feedback to heart and acting on their ideas and recommendations. If the results produce a resounding payoff, mentees should express appreciation and praise their mentor. If the results prove underwhelming, both parties should dissect what happened and extract lessons.

Ideally, mentors motivate students to achieve more than they initially believed they could accomplish. Setting a high bar—and encouraging mentees to give their best effort—creates a win-win dynamic.

— Adapted from The Workplace Engagement Solution, David Harder, Career Press.