Always act professionally, lead by example, and avoid stereotyping. Establish expectations early and set goals mutually. Show genuine interest in your mentee's career growth and always be available for them. Know what your mentee is passionate about and ask where they aspire to be in the next 5 to 10 years and do everything you can to help them achieve their immediate and future goals. Quickly identify your mentee's strengths and weaknesses and let them know what areas they need to develop. Let your mentee be aware of all developmental opportunities within and outside your organization. Be very proactive in their development and career growth. Check-in on them occasionally by email but remember to avoid all appearance of inappropriateness. Ask questions, be a good listener, and do not be too eager to provide answers or advice. Finally, be very honest and open with your mentee including mistakes you've made. Remember this is a trust relationship and all conversations with your mentee are strictly confidential.
I believe it is crucial to identity those things that the mentee values. I found that having the mentees review, in five-year increments, their past achievements, which gave them the greatest sense of pride, was extremely helpful. Those activities included all their endeavors. Analysis of those meaningful accomplishments to determine the specific reasons why they felt so gratified, gave the mentees new insight. For many of them, this was the first time that they specifically knew their personal motivators, those things that drove them to excel. They found choosing a career path much easier.
The number one thing to do is listen. What are the issues, concerns, uncertainties, and/or successes the individual needs to address? It’s important to develop a trusting relationship for it allows people to speak openly about what is going on in their world, often revealing subtle dynamics that a mentor can help them work through to maximize their effectiveness. It’s also important to tell a mentee what they need to hear, and not necessarily what you think they want to hear.
Mentoring is a giving process, sharing of yourself to help someone else succeed in their career or in life. There are some simple ways to get started – these questions help evaluate where they are in their career:
You may start the process by giving them your story – what you are doing, how you got there, and again, what you like about it and what you would change. It is helpful to follow up in two weeks, to see if they are making meaningful connections, learning about career options, making choices.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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