In any mentoring relationship, discussion should be emphasized over lecturing. When a mentee makes a mistake, or has a question, mentors can use the opportunity to hold a converstion. Discussions are best because they enhance learning and help grow relationships.
In integral component to the development of a successful mentoring relationship is trust. Trust requires commitment and honesty over a period of time. Keep up with meetings, be friendly with the other individual, and be respectful of their opinions.
On Giving Criticism
As a mentor, when giving criticism to your mentee, focus on the behavior and not the individual. Your mentee will feel less of a need to be defensive, and it should result in a smoother feedback process.
Mentoring does not have to limit itself to senior individuals mentoring younger ones. Reverse mentoring (which occurs when an older person is mentored by a younger one) can be a great way to improve workplace skills. Younger individuals are often more open minded and in tune with technology: an important combination in this modern, fast paced world.
Acknowledge a Mentee's Achievements
Mentors should highlight their mentees achievements, big or small. Acknowledging success helps build a protégés confidence, and encourages them to continue successfully accomplishing their goals.
Help Your Mentee Suggest Activities
While some protégés love suggesting potential activities for their mentoring sessions, others often either lack ideas or are simply unsure of what exactly a mentoring activity is. As a mentor, give your mentee a range of activities to choose from, and allow them to pick from the list.
It's good for mentors to feel responsible for their mentees, however it's important for mentors to recognize that they are not primarily accountable for the mentees success. Mentoring involves a shared responsibility, with the mentee bearing a larger portion. The success of a mentoring relationship is very dependent on how dedicated the protégé is.
Consistency is Important
Mentoring works because of the relationship between mentor and protégé. To develop maintain this relationship, it's important that the pair meet frequently and regularly.
Many people forget that even the most senior among us can benefit from mentoring. Often mentors in high positions are assumed to be too knowledgable to need another mentor. However, even these individuals can often benefit from a mentor during a change in career focus or professional path.
Curiosity is a characteristic of many successful mentors and mentees. Curious individuals proactively seek solutions to problems that they don't know the answer to. They also tend to be more motivated to find ways to improve their mentoring performance (e.g. research best practices, ask for advice from superiors).