Best Practices for Mentors

Giving feedback. Most mentees desire clear and constructive feedback. The best mentors focus on their communication skills. Ask your mentee what kind of feedback they want and their preferred communication style. Try to gauge how willing they are to hear direct, potentially critical, feedback.

As mentor, you may play several roles:

  • Advisor. Sharing your story and reflecting on what you could have done differently are important parts of the mentorship process. Sharing advice you wish you had received can be extremely helpful to your mentees.

  • Guide. Actively listen to your mentees. Let mentees share with you their strengths, ambitions, and dreams. Help guide them to set realistic goals. Instead of providing answers, help guide them to find the answers on their own.

  • Motivator. Provide encouragement to your mentees. Inspire them to try new things and express your confidence in their abilities. Offer positive feedback to help motivate your mentees.

  • Sponsor. When possible, introduce your mentee to your professional contacts and encourage them to build a network of mentors.

Mutual benefits. Mentoring relationships can be just as beneficial to you as to your mentees. Think about what your mentees can teach you – about their specialty, about their generation, about new trends, etc. Remember to have your mentees answer your questions.