Ten top tips for being a mentor


A mentor is an experienced individual that provides knowledge, expertise and advice to a less experienced individual over a period of time to support their professional development.

Being a mentor can be a positive experience providing a great learning opportunity and a chance to broaden your perspective, but it can also be intimidating particularly if you have never mentored before. To help, this week we’re focusing on ten top tips for being a mentor.

1. Decide what you have to offer

Consider what skills, knowledge and experience you can share with a potential mentee to support their professional development journey. For example, could you help someone develop their technical expertise, upgrade their membership or improve their public speaking and presentation skills?

2. Get to know your mentee

The key to providing the best support to your mentee is getting to know them so you understand their motivations and can build a strong mentoring relationship. Take the time to find out how they work, what they value, what they aspire to do and how they interact with others.

3. Understand what they want to learn

Find out what your mentee wants to learn during the mentoring relationship. Ask them about their professional goals, the challenges they are facing in the workplace and the support they are looking for.

4. Manage expectations

To establish a successful rapport you and your mentee need to understand what to expect from each other. Start your first meeting by discussing what you both expect from the relationship and what you are willing to contribute as a mentor.

5. Set the ground rules

The best way to manage expectations is to set some ground rules – agree on how you will contact each other (e.g. face-to-face, virtually or via phone), how regularly you will meet and the boundaries of your relationship. To find out more, check out our article on setting and agreeing on the ground rules for mentoring.

6. Actively listen

Take the time to listen to your mentee. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes a mentor just needs someone to listen to the challenges they are facing and act as a sounding board for ideas so they can work towards a solution together.

7. Build a rapport

Effective mentoring relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, openness and willingness to learn from one another. You could try building on previous mentoring sessions with follow-up questions, showing an interest in your mentee’s role and responsibilities and taking the time to answer any questions your mentee may have about yourself.

8. Be yourself

Remember people respond to honesty and authenticity so don’t be afraid to share your mistakes, as well as your successes with your mentee. Not only will this help to build trust, but it will also help your mentee to develop their problem-solving skills.

9. Let the mentee lead the way

Encouraging your mentee to find their solutions will help to build their confidence and empower them to make a change. However, you can still be proactive in the support you provide – for example, signposting useful books, webinars, organisations or events that will help them to achieve their goals. 

10. Enjoy and learn from the experience

Being a mentor is a positive experience that can provide new opportunities to learn and broaden your perspective about your work. It can also be incredibly satisfying to support and make a difference to someone else working in the sector, so access the CIWM Mentoring Platform to become a mentor today.

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