What Makes a Great Business Mentor?


As a means of developing your employees and improving productivity and business performance, one-to-one or group mentoring can be highly effective and budget-friendly. The role of a business mentor is to share their business knowledge, experience and insight with one or more employees who have been identified as suitable candidates for career development and progression.


Whilst many business leaders and managers may make excellent mentors and recognise the value that mentoring offers, the approach and process of mentoring may not be immediately obvious to them. This is where leadership training experts Maguire Training can help. Their course, 'How to Mentor Effectively', equips delegates with the key skills and knowledge required to be a successful and effective mentor.


With formal training most people can be a successful mentor to some degree, but the leaders and managers proven most adept at mentoring are generally those who already naturally possess certain traits and habits. Asked 'what makes a great mentor?' Maguire Training would suggest the following:


1. Willingness to listen
In order to gain a better understanding of the mentee and to contribute to their development a great mentor should be prepared to act as a sounding board, listening to and acknowledging the mentee's opinions, ideas, complaints, suggestions and concerns without interjecting.


2. Teaching, not demonstrating
A great mentor will not give away all of the answers; instead they will describe a particular situation or problem and provide the mentee with the knowledge and skills needed to resolve it, but leave it to the mentee to work out for themselves how they would approach and address the issue.


3. Being available
Whilst a great mentor cannot be at the mentee's side twenty-four hours a day, they will respond in as timely a manner as possible to assist the mentee if called upon.


4. Letting the mentee make mistakes
The mentor's role is not to wrap the mentee in cotton wool and shield them from the knocks, bumps, disappointments and failures of business life. Only by allowing the mentee to make mistakes can the situation be analysed in hindsight, lessons learned and repeated mistakes avoided.


5. Being supportive both in bad and good times
A great mentor will be encouraging and supportive at all times, helping the mentee to pick up the pieces and carry on when something goes wrong and offering constructive feedback and praise whenever appropriate.


6. Telling it like it is
A mentor's first duty is to guide and develop their mentee, not to be their best friend. The relationship between a great mentor and their mentee should be open, honest and candid; sparing the truth of a situation is not in the best interests of either party.


7. Offering progress measurement and review
A great mentor should be able to illustrate, with examples, how the mentee has progressed and developed as a result of the mentoring progress and should provide regular reviews which give both the mentee and the mentor the opportunity to discuss successes, failures and areas for further development.


Being an effective mentor can make an enormous difference to someone whose likely career path will take them into a managerial role and beyond. The process can be remarkably rewarding both for mentor and mentee as well as providing demonstrable business benefits. Any business leader or manager wishing to become a successful mentor will find 'How to Mentor Effectively' an invaluable course, and for the convenience of delegates who are unable to attend classroom-based training it is also available as online training, provided courtesy of Maguire Training's innovative mobile and E-learning system.

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