A mentor is defined as a person who supports another less experienced person by providing “help and advice over a period of time, especially help and advice related to their job.” What personal characteristics does it take to be an effective mentor?
One of the most important decisions to make is whether the mentor has the time and willingness to make a commitment to mentoring because it requires an investment on the part of everyone involved to make the development of both parties successful.
Furthermore, a mentor should not accept the role if they are only motivated by the chance for a promotion. Mentoring is an important leadership role and can also be used to develop and increase teaching, communication, and leadership skills.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2013 identified the most valued personal characteristics of successful mentors. Among the most beneficial are:
Altruism – The most frequently mentioned trait desired by mentees is an altruistic mentor. Mentees need someone who gives freely of his or her time, attention, and instruction. Without altruism, a true partnership cannot develop.
Honesty – A requirement for a mentor to possess for effective mentoring is honesty. Mentees are usually less experienced and need both praise and constructive correction.
Trustworthy – Mentors should be prepared to receive input, suggestions, and questions from the mentee without judgment. A protegee relies on his mentor’s technical expertise, as well as experience with cultural norms, for advice. The most important part of a trust relationship is discretion. If there is any doubt or confusion about the skills required to be a trustworthy mentor, advice can be found here.
Good Listener – A mentor, realizing that the person is trusting him or her to be a sounding board, cannot be distracted during their meeting time together and should be focused on the needs of the mentee. Being available as the need arises is extremely important.
Selflessness – During the workday, distractions abound. The mentor must carve out time to be available to the mentee without distractions. The mentor should be open and willing to play a part in introducing networking, encouraging, and supporting the mentee.
Anyone who is new in a position is sure to have insecurity about the newness of the workplace and the requirements for doing well. A good mentor can guide the mentee through the maze of learning the technical aspects of a job and provide encouragement and correction when necessary.