Advisor, guide, instructor – no matter what you call them, mentors can develop minds and allow wisdom and knowledge to be passed down from one to another. According to Forbes, 84% of Fortune 500 Companies have mentoring programs, and 97% of those individuals with mentors find these relationships valuable.
January is National Mentorship Month, and as part of a University that believes mentorship is an important tool to growth and success, we’ve gathered some traits of good mentor-mentee relationships and how to be a good mentor (or mentee) whenever these relationships occur in the classroom, the office or life.
Make a connection
To truly make an impact as a mentor, one must get to know the person their mentee to have the biggest impact.
“Ask them a lot of questions,” writes Joyel Crawford, a leadership strategist, in a list of mentoring tips for Forbes. “Take the time to take note of what makes them tick. It's easy to want to tell someone what to do, but that's not your role as a mentor. The more you get to know them, the more you can build on the foundation of a successful and productive relationship.”
Building a relationship allows mentors to see what skills their mentees want to develop. By taking the time to listen, a connection is established and both the mentor and mentee can focus on growth.
Once a connection is made, mentors can teach and set a standard to be upheld.
“Effective mentors educate mentees about the standards of the profession — and ensure they live up to them,” said Vineet Chopra and Sanjay Saint in an article for Harvard Business Review. “If a mentee produces second-rate or tardy work, both the mentee’s and mentor’s reputations suffer. Deadlines must be honored, commitments to projects kept, and appointment times adhered to.”
By creating standards, a mentee is able to find a purpose in the relationship, which can increase productivity in both party’s lives.
“Establishing firm and clear ground rules with mentees can improve efficiency,” the duo added. “Clarify what your mentee expects from the relationship, match it against your expectations, and reach consensus.”
Meet mentors where they are
While establishing boundaries and expectations are important, it is also essential to exercise empathy towards a mentee. No two life paths are the same, so it is important to be mindful of the different paths it can take to reach similar goals.
“It’s important to relate to your mentees and understand their perspective and feelings,” Tejas Vemparala argues in his piece for Business News Daily. “You have different strengths, interests, backgrounds and experiences; be careful not to project immediate expectations onto your mentee.
“If your process isn’t helping, change it. Adapt as you go, and include your mentee in decisions.”
By listening more, being curious about others and educating yourself, you can achieve higher levels of empathy.
Committed to mentoring
Georgia State keeps mentorship at the forefront of the University and its programs.
The Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a Health Informatics (HI) Mentorship Program. The program matches Health Informatics professionals with HI program students, allowing the professionals to connect with and support HI students through their time as in the program and their first 12 months into their respective fields.
The Supplemental Instruction program at Georgia State University allows students to become mentors to their peers. The program hosts weekly study sessions in traditionally difficult courses at the University, with the mentors previously making an “A” in the courses they teach.
The Institute for Biomedical Sciences Pipeline Program Initiative is an informal undergraduate and graduate mentoring program for those wanting to determine if the biomedical science field is right for them.
Georgia State University also sponsors Advancement for Women efforts, with mentorship at the center of the program. While its office is no longer in existence, the University continues programming in the forms of networking, leadership development and mentoring, providing women with the preparation needed for career advancement and ensuring equity and inclusion are promoted for women in position recruitment, hiring, and retention.