How do you become a great mentor?

5 tips on how to be a great mentor

Jul 26, 2017    Source: Vivien Lee


The BCCIE International Education Mentorship program enahnces the exchange of best practises between professionals in BC. Learn more about the program here.

1. Have an expectation setting meeting with your mentee

For your first meeting, sit down with your mentee and discuss your goals and expectations of this mentoring relationship together. You may have an idea of how you would like to work with your mentee but your mentee may be expecting an entirely different approach! Therefore, it is crucial to plant the seeds and have this fruitful conversation in the beginning as your relationship grows.

Tip: Have this initial meeting at a coffee shop with a relaxed and friendly vibe. It can be nerve wracking for your mentee to meet you (possibly for the first time!) and a calming environment over a warm beverage can ease both of you into the mood to discuss expectations more freely.

2. Get to know your mentee on a deeper level

Mentorship goes beyond giving guidance or advice and includes providing support for your mentee. Getting to know your mentee on a deeper level allows you to connect and share perspectives on a variety of topics beyond professional goals.

Tip: For example, you can ask your mentee about their favourite restaurants and later on suggest to meet there for your next meeting. Your mentee will be impressed that you remembered their favourite restaurant by being an attentive listener! As an additional perk, you may find a new gem to visit in town!

3. Add the human touch

In your busy daily life, it may be difficult to carve out time to meet with your mentee face-to-face. It can often feel easier to type up a quick email or text message instead. However, both mentors and mentees can benefit more from in-person conversations by observing body language and tone of voice. When you add the human touch, the relationship will become more open and honest. If it is not possible to meet in person due to distance or time, make use of technology and opt for a convenient video chat or phone call!

Tip: Did your mentee recently complete a tough report or overcome a challenge? Give them a surprise call and let them know that you’re proud of them! Encouragement and support from their mentor is one of the best gifts to a mentee.

4. Know when to hit pause

Once you have gotten to know your mentee better, you may have the urge to direct them to reach their goals faster. However, a great mentor knows when to wait before giving advice. Not all feedback is helpful as the mentor may not comprehend the circumstances fully. At the end of the day, mentors can offer a guiding hand but mentees must make decisions on their own.

Tip: If your mentee approaches you with a dilemma, ask open ended questions that prompt them to view the situation from different perspectives. This can help your mentee to approach the dilemma more objectively in the hopes of finding the best solution.

5. Share your experiences, including your mistakes and failures

Although it is exciting to share the journey of how you got to where you are today, it is vital to not forget the difficult times either. Your mentee will look up to you and they can learn a lot from your successes, but they can definitely benefit more from hearing about your failures and how you overcame them. Rather than replicating the path you took to achieve success, your mentee will become better prepared if they absorb the teachings you gained from failures in your journey.

Tip: If you’re comfortable, share photos of your younger self with your mentee. Accompany these photos with stories about how you overcame challenges at that age.