As a teacher and leader, I have experienced firsthand the impact of mentor-based leadership and will continue to integrate it into my classrooms, training programs, and my own company practices.

A mentor in today’s world could effectively guide a mentee that lives in other areas of their community or even from abroad. Online mentorship gives professionals a chance to change lives and workforces all over the globe. This is why carefully curating the right mentor-mentee relationship is so important. When done right, mentorship can instill confidence and build trust in the workplace.

The Mentor-Mentee Relationship

At the core, mentorship is when the mentor shares knowledge, experience, and skills that worked for them to help guide the mentee to improve and upskill. This expertise I am talking about can be both hard or soft skills. Hard skills are any technical training that you have gained through life experiences, such as computer programs or writing skills. Soft skills are the personal qualities that shape how you work and communicate with others, like etiquette, listening skills, and emotional intelligence. 

If I have learned one thing from mentorship, there are many different mentoring styles and it comes in many different shapes and sizes. One size most certainly does not fit all. 

A girl interviewing another girl

Three Signs of a Good Mentor:

There is a practice called reverse-mentoring, meaning a mentor and mentee relationship is not always an older individual teaching a junior. A mentor carries the skills and experience that the mentee desires to learn. As an experienced mentor, I still seek to learn new skills, and if a younger employee knows these skills, I would gladly accept their wisdom.

When leaders embody the mentoring relationship, it can change a life by increasing employee confidence, stimulating a new perspective, and opening up a new pathway for the mentee. With that being said, it is important to recognize the qualities that create a good mentor.

  1. Excellent listener/ sounding board
  2. Knowledgeable and willing to share their wisdom
  3. Open-minded and always open to accepting feedback

“I Still Don’t See Why I Would Need This” 

When you are in a leadership role within a company, you are ultimately responsible for creating a desirable work environment and growing the business. Successful mentoring can help fulfill both responsibilities.

A successful mentor-mentee relationship benefits both parties, and the impact of mentoring on career success is notable. When the mentor spends time educating the mentee, they feel a sense of reaffirmed confidence in their skills. They are cultivating a more successful team, community, or even global workforce depending on the distance they have to their mentee. 

Now, the mentee is exposed to new perspectives, giving them the self-confidence and skills to grow within the company, and they have a person to lean on when they need guidance. When this relationship is successful, it will inevitably lead to the mentor and mentee having a higher level of job satisfaction. 

When employees are empowered and satisfied within their position, they are more engaged, leading to an increased effort to help grow the business. When employees are engaged, they are much more likely to stay with their company. 

Often, we get lost in the hustle and bustle of work culture, and we forget about the thing that we all crave; connection. For example,  in Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey, question 10 is  “I have a best friend at work.” In this survey, it is clear that humans need to feel a sense of belonging and purpose in the workplace to feel engaged. 

The way employees feel in the workplace impacts their performance. Remember, you are trying to grow your business and people. You want your people to be as good as you; if you build their capacity, you build yours.

Alright, You Got Me. I’m in. Now What?

Implementing mentorship into the workplace may seem daunting at first glance, but it is relatively easy to do. Before we discuss how to pair a mentor and mentee, it is vital to highlight that being a mentor is a privilege, hard work and is not smooth sailing. In some situations, the mentor may lack the interpersonal skills to guide another person effectively.

Three Signs of a Lousy Mentor: 

  1. Bad listener/challenging to get ahold of
  2. Unwilling to share their knowledge 
  3. Closed-off and doesn’t accept feedback well

Now that you know what qualities to look for in a mentor, it is essential to mindfully pair your mentor and mentees so their learning styles align. Once you pinpoint what skills the mentee needs to work on, you can look to the people who excel in those areas and match them together. 

To give you an example, my company, EI Experience, recently hired a new Junior Digital Marketer named Demi. Demi is a very creative person, but she struggles with organizational skills. When we found this out, I wanted to pair her up with someone who has a similar mind to her. My Program Coordinator, Kirin, reminds me of her in many ways. They are kindred spirits, and I knew they would benefit from the experience if they worked together. 

This relationship taught Demi new skills to help her succeed and reminded Kirin of her strengths and the areas where she performs best. They were both able to grow from this experience and create a trusting relationship in the workplace. Mentoring truly does help employees maximize their potential and help ensure that they feel confident and supported in their work. When employees feel like they have a role model within the company, they make fewer mistakes and expand their knowledge and skillsets; thus cutting the loss of employees. 

Now I’m curious, have you ever been a mentor or mentee? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help reflect on the relationship.

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