Described as individuals who offer support, guidance, and assistance to mentees, mentors are often granted an air of poise and superior competency. But despite their advanced skills and years of experience, every mentor faces ongoing challenges in their mentorships, and acknowledging these struggles is just as important as acknowledging the benefits of mentoring.
General consensus would dictate that mentoring isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Like any other activity that requires responsibility, mentoring comes with its own share of obstacles. In other words, mentoring isn’t a trivial task, but one that requires hard work and effort.
No matter what your approach to mentoring is, you are certain to face any of the common challenges all mentors around the world face every day. Understanding what these problems might be and how you can manage them will not only improve the success of your mentorships, but will also make you a better mentor overall.
Gauging your mentee’s nature
As mentors, it is essential to take stock of your mentee’s personality traits and work habits. You have to decide early on what kind of person you’re mentoring. What kind of employee are they? Do they respect authority and welcome the advice of others? Do they work better alone or as part of a group? Are they good communicators? Learning the answers to these questions can take time, but it’s worth the effort. The key is to remain patient and non-judgmental. Refrain from jumping to conclusions and don’t be hasty and make mistakes about their true nature.
Setting goals for the mentoring program
Setting goals and helping a mentee meet them can be an ongoing challenge, but if you start from the beginning and stay consistent, you’ll bring an organized, hands-on approach to your mentoring program. You’ll provide clarity and ensure that your mentee is working towards their goals rather than being lost in confusion. Goals define the purpose and meaning of the mentoring program, while ensuring that both the mentor and mentee have something concrete to work towards.
We’ve already established that trust is one of the most important elements of a successful mentorship. Gaining your mentee’s trust can be a laborious task that requires a lot of time and effort. Regardless of whether your mentee trusts easily or requires more convincing, your mentee should be able to get to the point where he/she is able to confide in you without any second thoughts or inhibitions. Once trust is established, the relationship has a firm foundation to build up.
Identifying your mentee’s talents
Often times, just being a source of support isn’t enough. A mentor’s role extends to identifying the hidden talents of your mentee. Everyone has individual strengths and weaknesses, and finding them in your mentee will help you determine their areas of excellence and areas needing improvement. When you are able to guide mentees in the direction of their strengths, you’ll succeed in what you set out to do: helping your mentees reach their goals.
Allocation of time for completing specific tasks
Time is an invaluable resource, which once lost cannot be regained. You must constantly stay on top of tasks you assign and become an expert at setting appropriate time frames. Manage time by preparing schedules or time slots for meetings, discussions and reviews, and completing tasks within specified timeframes. Refrain from delaying or postponing tasks or meetings to set a standard of consistency and progress.
Giving feedback to your mentees
Feedback is a valuable element of a solid mentoring program. It can be hard to point out where your mentee could improve, and even giving consistent praise is difficult for some people. But giving regular feedback will help your mentees improve in numerous ways. You’ll provide your mentees with an outside perspective on their performance, something that is often hard to gain. This allows your mentees to work on improving where needed and continue doing what they do best. It’ll also give them more confidence in their work and abilities. Keep track of the feedback you give and you and your mentee will have a good idea at the end of the mentorship how much progress was made.
These are just some of the common challenges that come with being a mentor. There are other challenges, of course, which can range from simple to severe and can differ from one mentor to the next. The important lesson to note is that mentoring comes with a reasonable amount of obstacles, and understanding and meeting these challenges will go a long way towards improving your skills as a mentor.
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