Be a Better Mentor
Mentorship can be a key part of your success as a manager and employee, if you understand the power of the relationship.
This is because mentoring actually benefits both the mentor and the mentee, writes S. Mitra Kalita for Fortune. This is good news, as the practice is growing in company culture across industries, and workplaces are introducing formal mentoring programs.
“Mentors gave me the confidence to embrace risk (including starting my own business), while mentees consistently change my world view, disrupt my comfort level, expose me to new platforms and technologies,” Kalita writes.
Here are mentoring lessons learned by Kalita:
- Believe in your mentee. While it sounds simple, Kalita stresses that simply having faith in your mentee can do wonders for the mentorship.
“To approach work, creativity and management with this philosophy—'you can do it!’—is liberating for staffers, especially those early in their careers. It is impossible to ask people to have confidence in themselves if we do not have said confidence in them,” she explains.
- Ask the right questions. For many aspiring mentors, it can be difficult to know where to start and how to help guide your mentee. It’s the job of a mentor to guide them, and it’s best to develop three simple questions to ask.
“I learned to ask pointed but existential questions. They are: ‘Are you happy? What brings you joy? What do you want to do?,’” she writes. These questions take effort to answer, but guide career discovery.
- Prioritize people of color. Advocating for diversity and inclusion takes on a larger role in mentoring in the workplace. It is on managers and mentors to counteract implicit bias in the workplace.
“Prioritize people of color, in both who you choose as mentors and mentees,” writes Kalita. “If I am running a meeting, I check invite lists for representation. I call on folks who have not spoken. It becomes second nature after a while, leading me to believe we can combat our own biases once we acknowledge they exist and work constantly to compensate.”
- Help diffuse the tension. It happens to everyone in the workplace—at some point, you encounter someone you don’t get along with. As a mentor, you can support and help manage these issues as they arise.
“I encourage mentees (and myself) to literally try to reset the chemistry, or at least the influence that person has over one’s moods and sense of work and worth,” explains Kalita. “Sometimes, overtly approaching the colleague in question and saying you want to reset is a welcome overture; they’ve likely been feeling the tension, too.”
If you are looking for a mentor or to serve as a mentor to others in the profession, join CASE's e-mentoring platform and connect with others in advancement.