Authored by Chad Storlie
Mentoring is one of the best ways that you can add and create long term value for your company and your career. Mentoring is the art of helping another person achieve their career goals. That’s it, nothing more. Mentoring is a selfless act of leadership, coaching, perseverance, understanding, teaching, and development where you help someone else understand their career aspirations, set goals, and then determine multiple paths that they can take to achieve those goals.
Being a mentor is something that everyone can do. You may be a junior employee, but you may serve as a critical mentor for other senior employees in the area of technology. Peers can be mentors when they each teach the other person a new or different skill critical to their future success. Or, in the traditional understanding of a mentor, a more senior employee can mentor a more junior employee. Finally, a mentor does not have to be in your current company. They may be in a different company, a different industry, or a different part of the world.
Mentoring takes a time commitment, so ensure that you set aside time and then protect that time. Mentoring can be done on the phone, in person, or via other types of visual-audio technology like Zoom©. The first step is to find, set aside, and protect the time that it will take you to mentor someone else.
When we first start to mentor, we want to help everyone. That is a great goal, but the reality of our job, family commitments, travel, and the unexpected can quickly hinder free time available for mentoring. Start with one or two mentees at the most to make sure you can meet the time requirements for mentorship and still be flexible in your schedule. A goal of staying with one or two mentees is a good goal. Mentoring is about the quality of the relationship and the advice that you give the mentee, not the quantity of mentees that you have.
As a mentor, there should be very little of your own story and your own history discussed with the mentee. Instead, as a mentor, the discussion should always be about asking questions, engaged follow up, and helping the mentee learn how to explore their career options, resources, and goals. A great deal of the mentor-mentee conversation needs to be focused on the specific goals, timing, and career aspirations of the mentee.
One of the best ways that a mentor creates a long lasting impact with the mentee is to help the mentee define and create a plan with a timeline and identifiable goals. The mentor – mentee relationship should be more than talk and advice. The mentor should help the mentee identify and take concrete steps and actions that move the mentee closer to his / her career goals. Advice is good, but a plan to help you works towards career goals is the best. This plan should be discussed, revised, and updated each mentor-mentee meeting to ensure that the progress towards the mentee’s goals remains on track.
A great mentor realizes that he / she cannot teach their mentee everything or their mentee requires the support and education from others to help achieve their career goals. For the mentor, opening your connections up to the mentee, recommending others to talk with, and finding industry and subject matter experts that can continue the mentee’s path to their goals is essential.
Mentoring is one of the best ways that you can add and create long term value for your company, your career, and help someone else succeed. Remember, mentoring is the art of helping another person achieve their career goals, not to emulate or copy your own career. Mentoring is a selfless act of leadership, coaching, perseverance, understanding, teaching, and development where you help someone else understand their career aspirations, set goals, and then determine multiple paths that they can take to achieve those goals.
Have you ever been a mentor? Share your best tip in the comments.
1. American Corporate Partners (ACP) is a national nonprofit organization focused on helping returning veterans and active duty spouses find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking and online career advice.
2. Veterati is a platform that effortlessly creates mentorship conversations between Veterans and successful professionals. Join thousands of Service Members, Veterans, and Military Spouses in setting up free 1-hr mentorship phone calls with successful professionals.
About the author:
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
Originally published in 2016, updated in October 2021.
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