What Does a Mentor Do In the Workplace?

FT Contributor  | 

What Is a Mentor?

In a work environment, a good mentor is a person who has experience at a job and focuses on helping other coworkers be the best they can be at their jobs. A mentor provides these coworkers with a support system at work, while encouraging them to set goals and strive to achieve them.

Mentors are an important part of the workplace because they can inspire other workers to grow and improve on their performance, while ensuring the office environment remains positive and motivating. While mentoring is similar to coaching, it involves a more long-term relationship with the mentee, and one where the mentor provides wisdom and support instead of specific actions to change the mentee’s behaviors.

Good mentors are important for the morale of employees. Motivated employees who feel they’re being supported and inspired are generally the most productive and dedicated at work. Mentors can ensure coworkers are excited about their roles and looking forward to growing and improving. To become a good mentor, an employee must have strong leadership skills and a desire to inspire other coworkers to do their best.

What Is the Role of a Mentor?

A good mentor focuses on making new employees feel welcome, while helping to educate them on best practices in their role. New employees usually have a lot to learn and a mentor helps them to not only master these skills, but to set goals for themselves and develop their own leadership and mentoring skills.

Mentors exhibit strong leadership skills and can determine how to help employees become the best workers they can be. When employees become mentors and demonstrate these important leadership qualities, it generally doesn’t go unnoticed by their superiors.

What Makes a Good Mentor

To become a good mentor, you must display certain qualities that can help your mentees gain confidence in themselves and their ability to grow.

Show Enthusiasm

If you don’t show enthusiasm as a mentor, you’ll have trouble motivating and inspiring your mentees. Other employees may find it boring to follow you and may not feel comfortable coming to you for advice. However, if you’re a good mentor who shows enthusiasm, you’ll be able to engage the employees you’re attempting to mentor. As an enthusiastic mentor, you can also keep your mentees interested in their jobs and excited to continue growing with the company.

For example, an employee comes to you as a mentor because they are dealing with a client who simply can’t be satisfied. The employee feels beaten down and doesn’t have the motivation to try and please the client anymore. As a good mentor, you pick the employee back up and help them create a few unique deliverables that are sure to excite the client. By showing enthusiasm for the project, you’ve motivated the employee to try again and do their best.

While enthusiasm is a key quality of a good mentor, it is possible to show too much enthusiasm. If you’re too over-the-top with enthusiasm at work, it can be a turn-off for coworkers. It’s important to find a happy medium that displays your love for the job and enthusiasm for the success of your employees without coming off as fake or annoyingly enthusiastic.

Goal-Getters

To be a good mentor, you must show that you set personal and professional goals and put in the work to achieve them. The way you act sets an example for your mentees in the workplace, so it’s important to remain calm and focused. In turn, this will show your coworkers how they should act and what they need to do to achieve their own goals.

Show a Positive Attitude

One of the most important traits of a good mentor is the ability to maintain a positive attitude. Even if you’re having a bad day or feeling frustrated, you can inspire your mentees by staying positive. When your coworkers know you don’t easily lose your cool, they’ll also feel more comfortable coming to you when they’re in a negative space and need someone to talk it out with.

Active Listeners

Active listening is when you give your full attention to someone and engage in the conversation. As a good mentor, it’s important to practice active listening when talking with coworkers and mentees. You can ensure you’re actively listening by:

  • Avoiding distractions, such as your phone or computer.
  • Providing verbal cues throughout the conversation, such as nodding or saying “yes.”
  • Asking questions to ensure you understand what the person is saying.
  • Waiting in silence for the person to answer questions or think about the next statement.

Encourage You to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

A comfort zone is an area where you know you’re doing things right and you aren’t taking any chances. While a comfort zone truly is comfortable, there’s no growth that can occur unless you step out of it.

As a good mentor, you must constantly be pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. You should also encourage your mentees to get out of their comfort zones to grow and achieve lofty goals. For example, if a coworker is afraid to make a sales call, practice with them and stay in the office for support as they make the call. Encourage a mentee who wants to be promoted to apply for the open position. You could even motivate a coworker to sign up for a gym membership if they want to get in shape but are nervous about working out.

By stepping out of your own comfort zone and encouraging others to do the same, you can be a support system for your mentees. Attempting to tackle a task you’ve never done before or a job you don’t know you’ll be good at can be scary. If you support your mentees during these challenges, they’ll break through their limitations with your help.

Provide Beneficial Feedback

As a good mentor, you can help your mentees learn and grow by providing them with beneficial feedback on their performance. Constructive criticism is the feedback you give that helps a person to understand how to do better. It’s important to be sure you’re only providing feedback that can help your mentee make actionable changes in their performance. Vague criticism that’s not accompanied by specific ways to improve doesn’t help your mentee to progress and can also make them feel defeated and unmotivated to try again.

Value the Opinions of Others

When you value the opinions of others, you can learn and grow as an individual. As a mentor who values the opinions of others, you can also show respect towards your mentees and make them feel comfortable providing you with beneficial feedback and speaking their minds.

Being open to hearing and considering others’ opinions allows you to see situations in different ways so you can collaborate to solve problems. As a good mentor, you understand how valuing the opinions of your coworkers and mentees can help you increase your own motivation and achieve your own goals.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

This post was updated November 11, 2019. It was originally published November 11, 2019.