Mentors are important. They can be role models, teach you about an industry, and help you navigate to the next stages of your career. Mentoring principles apply to both mentors and mentees, so they should be taken seriously. Here are some things most mentors get wrong:
- Too Much Trust One of the most common problems mentors have is too much trust in their mentees' abilities. Sometimes they trust them too early or with tasks that are over their heads. This is harmful to the mentee, because if they fail, it can set them back or take time to recoup from. When you are just starting out in your career, you need mentors who are willing to invest their time into helping guide you through growth stages.
- Not listening Your mentee is supposed to be coming to you for advice, but they will only do that if you actually listen. If the person is talking and you are thinking about what to say next or how it's going to affect your day, then you're not listening. How are you supposed to know what your mentee really needs if you don't listen first?
- Giving too much or too little advice Mentors need to be able to give the right amount of advice. If they're not giving enough, then it can leave their mentee without direction or guidance. On the other hand, if they dish out too much, then their mentee will be overwhelmed and won't know what's best for them.
- Criticizing without offering solutions This is similar to the first point, but it's more for mentors than mentees. Some mentors jump right into criticism without taking a moment to think about how they can help. If you're giving someone advice, make sure you know them well enough to be able to give them good advice that will make their lives easier or better in some way.
- Treating you like someone who is going places This one is less common, but sometimes mentors treat their mentees like they're successful, even when they know that they aren't. This can make the mentee feel worse about themselves and think that the mentor only wants to be associated with people who are already doing well in their career.
- Ignoring the mentee's feelings Mentors have to be able to address their mentee's feelings even if they feel uncomfortable. Mentoring is about having two-way conversations where everyone benefits from one another's knowledge and experience. It's not just the mentor who has the power in this relationship.
- Making assumptions about what the mentee wants or needs This is one of the most common mistakes for mentors. As mentioned before, you need to be able to understand your mentee's needs well enough so that you can help them solve any problems or challenges they are facing. If you aren't doing this, then it's hard to truly be a mentor and get real results from your mentoring relationship.
- Not being available when needed A bad mentor is never around when their mentee needs them. They aren't available to answer questions, share information, or offer guidance. Being a mentor is about being available for your mentee so that they can learn from you and build a more stable career.
- Blindly praising your mentees Mentors shouldn't just say "hooray" and forget about you. They should be able to check in with you regularly, offer honest feedback, and help you grow as a professional. If your mentor is doing this for you, then it's great. If they're just pushing good words onto you without really knowing how much value it gives or how it makes you feel, then they're not really doing their job.
- Ignoring their own shortcomings Yes, mentors are supposed to help you improve your weaknesses and grow professionally. However, they should understand that they have plenty of room for improvement themselves too. They should focus on helping their mentees see the right path but also be aware if their mentees are pointing out some of their own mistakes.
ConclusionAt the end of the day, we're all human and we're all going to make mistakes. The key thing is that mentors should always be learning from what they do and trying to improve themselves in the process. That's why it's important for them to keep these things in mind and not fall into any of these traps with their mentees.
Thanks for reading!