in Communication

8 Lessons I Learned on Being an Effective Mentor

Today, I have been reading and thinking about importance of ‘workplace mentoring’ in building great teams that deliver results. I chose the term ‘workplace mentoring’ because I am writing this from a business context.

To me, simple definition of workplace mentoring is – “An act of coaching/counseling with an intent of improving people, their performance, effectiveness and outcomes”. Since workplace mentoring involves one to one human exchange of values, the line between workplace and personal mentoring is often diminished over a period of time.

What do mentors typically do?

  • Mentors elevate human potential and hence performance.
  • Mentors open up a world of possibilities for people being mentored.
  • Mentors generously ‘give’ – their time, knowledge and resources.

What I have learned about effective workplace mentoring?

  • Effective mentoring is an art and the process of mentoring starts when the value starts flowing from one human (mentor) to another.
  • Building trust is at the core of being a good mentor. The ideas and thoughts of a mentor will never will completely received unless there is a strong trust that mentor is here to help. To make things better.
  • Mentoring is a human activity. Some level of planning helps, but too much of it kills the purpose of mentoring. Let it remain an ‘art’.
  • Mentoring is seldom a formal activity. It happens informally over a cup of coffee, in a one-on-one meeting, at the water cooler, in the canteen and sometimes at the desk of the person being mentored.
  • Mentoring is about transferring benefits of your wisdom by telling meaningful stories, building context and generously sharing knowledge. It is as much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘telling’. Mentors are people person – they love people and strongly believe in channelizing human potential. They believe in people.
  • That brings me to the ‘generosity’ element. A mentor is generous with his time, resources and knowledge. An effective mentor generously ‘gives’, and hence ‘serves’.
  • Mentoring is a ‘mutual’ game. People follow a mentor by choice – one that is driven by who the mentor is, what value he can deliver and how can it help them in being better. ‘Assigning’ a mentor to someone does not help unless they know their mentor as a person (and their influence).
  • From organization’s point of view, mentoring has to be a top-down initiative. Skill and experience to effectively mentor others should be a primary requirement for job at a leadership position.  A leader’s job is two-fold – drive business results and grow capacities of people while doing that. Mentoring skills are a must to achieve the latter.

Personally for me, mentoring others has been a selfish activity – because it helped me become more people oriented, more social and more thoughtful. Sometimes, spending those unscheduled 20 minutes with a team member over a cup of coffee can be a great energizer.

Have a great week ahead!

  1. Hi Tanmay,

    Once again a great post to start the new week.

    I found every points very apt.

    Thank You for sharing your thoughts in a such a “liquid” manner :)

    Sudev Gandhi

  2. Hello Sir,

    The only thing I have to say here is that “I am very lucky to have a mentor like YOU”.

    Thanks for being there.

  3. Hi Tanmay,

    Its always good to start our work with such good posts. Thanks for being the source.

    Its often happens that after a period of time working on the same pattern people get dust on their mind, they starts deviating and in turns starts loosing their performance benchmark. A mentor is the person who helps removing that dust and give you clear vision where you have to go. Tanmay, I totally agree on the points you described for being effective Mentor.

  4. Mithilesh – Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment.

    A mentor is the one who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way. I like the analogy you put forward – mentor is the one who realigns the focus and clears the dust.

    Have a great week ahead!

    Best,
    Tanmay
    .-= Tanmay Vora´s last blog ..8 Lessons I Learned on Being an Effective Mentor =-.

  5. Tanmay,

    Great post. I just finished talking to Steve Farber about his new book “Greater Than Yourself.” It’s mentoring on steroids.

    db

  6. Great post Tanmay,

    I like your thoughts and a way you represented that.

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