Many of the most successful people will say that they got to where they are with the help of a great mentor. Small businesses are a great environment for mentorship relationships, because you’re working in closer quarters and have more regular interaction with your employees.
So as the leader of your small business, how can you ensure that you’re positioning yourself to be a great mentor as well?
• Don’t get bogged down in praise. While it’s always good to know when to stroke the ego of your mentee, you also need to know that what’s most important is honesty. When someone is doing something poorly or needs to improve in a certain area, tell them. Praise isn’t inherent in a mentor/mentee relationship — it needs to be earned.
• Keep talking. Silence sort of defeats the purpose of a mentorship. Give constant feedback and keep the lines of communication open so that your mentee doesn’t get surprised down the road when it’s time for you to review their performance.
• Make sure you understand how your mentee receives feedback. Do they tend to have their feelings hurt when you give negative feedback? Do they get a little too inflated when you praise them? By understanding how your mentee will respond to your advice and your feedback, you will also have a better understanding of how to deliver it to produce the best results and to resonate with them the best.
• Be an active listener. It’s not just your job to hand down advice — you need to be able to listen to the concerns and questions of your mentee. Do your best to empathize with their position and place yourself in their situation. Consider what they’re saying, how they feel and how you should respond as a result.
• Be the person you want your mentee to be. A great mentor is someone that people should admire and want to emulate. You can’t expect your protégés to take you seriously if you say one thing and do another. Be who you want your mentee to be, and you’ll be off to a great start.
The role of a mentor is extremely important in molding young business people and entrepreneurs. Make sure that you are doing everything you can to pass on your knowledge effectively.