Making a Good Mentor – Expert Opinion

(This post is part of our 2014 Resolve to Evolve program.)

Mentoring expert Lois Zachary of the Center for Mentoring Excellence offers five ways to make yourself a better mentor:

  1. Identify lessons learned. Make time to sit back and reflect on your mentoring experiences this year. What did you learn from your mentoring partner(s)? How are you using what you learned?
  2. Celebrate strengths. Think about what it is you did or said that worked particularly well in your mentoring relationships. Be as specific as you can. If you’ve kept a mentoring journal, now is the time to take another look at it.  Plan to maximize your assets in the New Year.
  3. Recognize missed opportunities. We all have experiences that we wish had gone better. We may not have expressed something that needed to be said, candy-coated feedback when we could have been more forthright, or not followed through on something we’d promised. What do you wish had gone better in your mentoring relationships this past year? What got in your way? Ask your mentoring partners for feedback.
  4. Identify growth opportunities. In what ways have you grown as a mentor or a mentee? What new approaches have you tried this past year? In what ways, have you challenged and stretched yourself? Are you more effective in your mentoring role now than you were a year ago?  How can you accelerate your gains this coming year?
  5. Develop a game plan. Identify specific skills, approaches and competencies you need to learn and develop to take your personal mentoring practice to the next level.  Then, consider how you are going to go about acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to move forward. Craft a development plan that includes milestones and time frames and opportunities to try out new skills.

Remember: No matter how many times you engage in mentoring you can always get better at your practice. There is no better time to start than right now.



Content used with permission of the Center for Mentoring Excellence
Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is PEAK Grantmaking's communications and practices director. You can find her on Twitter @nikkiwpowell.