4 Things All Mentors Should Keep in Mind
Photo Credit: Alexander Suhorucov/Pexels
Whether you’re just getting started on a career path, breaking into an industry different from your own, or learning a new role at your current company, having mentorship can be vital to your personal and professional development. Mentorship programs don’t just benefit the mentee, though. They can also serve the mentor who can learn just as much from the person they are teaching. In a 2018 study by Sage that surveyed 11,000 people from small and medium-sized businesses, 97 percent reported that their mentor experience was valuable, and 55 percent believed mentoring helped them succeed.
To learn more about what it takes to be a good mentor, CircleAround caught up with Reshma Gopaldas, vice president of video at SHE Media. Gopaldas has over a decade of experience as a professional mentor for interns and junior members of her team. She shared with us four things mentors should keep in mind.
1. Wisdom is reciprocal
“The first thing I learned from being a mentor is that we learn from everyone,” Gopaldas tells CircleAround.
It’s not a given that those in higher positions of power know everything about their industry. A mentee might have insights into emerging trends and be able to offer new perspectives. Treating mentorship as a two-way learning relationship can generate more creativity and productive workflows.
“Everyone likes to assume we teach younger people, but I’ve learned so much from interns.”
2. Indirect actions matter
“Even when you don’t think people are watching you, mentees, young people especially, are taking it all in. So be aware that you are an influencer at all times in an office,” Gopaldas advises.
When you’re not directly interacting with a mentee, what you do still makes an impact on their experience. If a mentor makes a mistake on the job, for example, it's important they set a good example by handling themselves professionally. It could be a teachable moment for a mentee who may be watching on the sidelines.
3. Foster talent
It might sound obvious, but ensuring the mentorship experience provides a full range of opportunities will set your program apart from the rest. Interns or junior team members are much more than coffee runners — they often have an abundance of ideas and a desire to learn more.
“Never squelch creativity or confidence,” Gopaldas says. “While this is hard to balance with the needs of a business, as you teach people, you’ll want to encourage creativity as much as possible.”
4. Celebrate differences
“Recognize that people around you who look up to you have all had their challenges and stories,” Gopaldas says. “Don’t think, ‘Well I went through this, and in my time, I put in these hours,’ etc. If the idea of being a mentor means making someone else do all the drudge work, it’s probably not worth creating a mentorship program.
“We should be working together to make things better for all of us and not continue unhealthy patterns,” Gopaldas adds. “Recognize differences in everyone you work with, and celebrate that.”
Of course, mentors can't apply this advice until they have mentees to teach. If you want to be a mentee and are looking for an internship this summer, there's still time! Many websites offer internship opportunities, including Girl Scout Network opportunities.