How to be an effective mentor: 8 do's and don'ts

Mentoring employees who demonstrate aptitude and the potential to take on positions of greater responsibility is an important aspect of business succession planning. Taking responsibility for the professional development of their staff is an accepted part of a business leader's or manager's role, but there is more to being a successful mentor than simply sharing knowledge and experience. In their excellent course How to Mentor Effectively, leadership training specialists Maguire Training provide delegates with the knowledge, understanding and skills they require to mentor relented employees and develop them to their full potential.


The role of the mentor is diverse 'a good mentor should be a teacher, role model and visionary' but as with any role there are right ways and wrong ways to approach mentoring. Here Maguire Training lists 8 important do's and don'ts for anyone who aspires to be an effective mentor.


DO dedicate sufficient time for mentoring

Agree to meet with your mentee at times that are convenient for both of you, and when there are no external pressures or likely distractions.


DON'T be overcritical of mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes and these should be used as a learning experience for the mentee, who can be invited to suggest how they might have done things differently to achieve the desired outcome. It is not the mentor's place to chastise or lecture a mentee but to encourage them to analyse their mistakes and take lessons from them.


DO assign tasks and responsibilities that stretch the mentee

Encouraging mentees to take on tasks that extend slightly beyond their comfort zone will enhance capabilities such as problem-solving and creative thinking, help them to acquire new skills and experience and build their confidence.


DON'T talk when you should be listening

Mentoring is a two-way process, and whilst it is important for a mentor to share their knowledge and experience with the mentee, it is equally important that they invite questions and feedback, listen carefully and understand the mentees thoughts and opinions.


DO set the performance bar high

It's important to let the mentee know that you have high expectations of them. Whilst the mentee's tasks must be clearly explained, and goals must be realistic and achievable, the mentee must also be aware of the level of quality and performance you want them to deliver.


DON'T undermine your mentee's trust in you

An effective mentor-mentee relationship is built upon mutual trust. The mentor should respect confidentiality and not discuss their mentee's merits or failings with others, fail to keep to agreed mentoring appointments or otherwise breach their trust in you.


DO be an exemplary role model

Behave at all times as you would wish your mentee to behave. You should be the person that they aspire to be, and as such you should maintain high standards of performance and behaviour but also demonstrate that it is perfectly possible for your mentee to attain the same status.


DON'T inhibit your mentee's capacity to think for themselves

Effective mentoring empowers the mentee to take their own approach to a situation and work out the best way to proceed. Mentor's should minimise interference, even if the mentee may be about to make a mistake. Guidance can be provided, but in order for the mentee to develop and learn they should be trusted to work things out for themselves.


An effective mentor is a guide, teacher, advocate, support worker, role model, guru and much more. Developing employees can be an extremely rewarding experience for business leaders and managers and Maguire Training can provide everything that is required to become a first-class mentor. To help business people who are unable to take time out to attend courses offsite, Maguire Training conveniently provides How to Mentor Effectively as an online training course too, accessed via their innovative and intuitive E-learning platform.

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