Think back to the beginning of your career in your chosen field: Chances are that you were a little unsure, a little shaky, and very, very green. Thanks to training, you had the technical aspect of your job down, but likely needed to be schooled in the little nuances that make a seasoned professional stand out from a novice.
A mentor is a good listener who offers support, advice, wisdom, encouragement and listening. This person — who shares your profession — shares their time and their talent. They offer advice on issues both relating to the job and on other matters.
So what makes a good mentor? Many people feel that being a mentor requires special skills, but mentors are simply people who have the qualities of good role models.
Whether you are a mentee looking for a new mentor and need a list of qualities, or are looking to step up your game as a mentor, here are five things that make someone a good mentor:
1. A strong and genuine professional interest in their mentee
A good mentor is up on their game, and knows what is happening in their mentee’s life. They know how she did in school, what her strengths and weaknesses are, her professional aspirations, and even where she is willing to relocate for a job.
They may be the mentee’s reference, and the two meet periodically, either in person or through teleconference or video conference, to discuss how her career is going.
2. A willingness to share their past experiences
A good mentor is willing to share skills, knowledge, and expertise. They will teach their mentee what she knows and give the best advice possible. They will not only share strengths and positive success stories, but shortcomings and failures as well, knowing that these stories will help their young friend.
3. Enthusiasm about their chosen career
They may be experienced and have been around the block a few times when it comes to work, but they never show the mentee how world-weary they are. A good mentor is enthusiastic about their work, which in turn, makes a mentee excited about the career she has just embarked on.
4. The drive to never stop learning
Work constantly changes and evolves, and learning never stops, especially if you want to stay current in your field. A good mentor not only encourages their mentee’s continuing education, but continues their own, so that they do not become stagnant in their field. After all, they can only be a good mentor if they know what is happening in today’s work climate.
5. The ability to give constructive criticism
Criticism can do one of two things. It can wear you down, or when done constructively, it can build you up stronger than before. A good mentor helps their mentee by giving guidance and constructive feedback.