Your success as a mentor is tied to the success of your mentees. And while you certainly won’t offer your mentees bad advice on purpose, you might unknowingly do so. (See yesterday’s post with advice for mentees who get bad advice.)
Here’s how you can avoid giving bad advice as a mentor.
Treat Each Mentee Like an Individual
If you want to provide your mentees with advice they can use, get to know them on an individual level, and take interest in them as people. Ask them questions about what’s important to them, what’s challenging for them, and what their long-term goals are. This way, you can offer advice that is relevant to their own career goals and trajectories. And you won’t unintentionally be projecting your own circumstances and past experiences onto them when it’s not relevant to their particular situation.
It’s important to view your mentees as unique individuals with unique aspirations and talents. Mentees are not required to resemble and emulate you perfectly. And they should not be viewed as a cumbersome responsibility or abstract project.
Visualize Yourself in Your Mentees’ Shoes, and Take Your Time
As you’re offering advice to your mentees, picture yourself in their shoes, and try to understand their circumstances firsthand. In other words, fine-tune and practice your emotional intelligence skills.
If you were in their situation, what type of advice would you give to yourself? Be sure to ask them questions and actively listen to their responses, and don’t assume you are fully aware of their circumstances.
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Then, take the time to consider what advice to give them. There’s no rule demanding that you provide your mentees with instantaneous advice whenever you meet. Instead, really take the time to consider what advice would really help them, and schedule a follow-up meeting when necessary.
Be Transparent and Honest About Yourself
Allow your mentees to learn from some of the mistakes you’ve made when you offer them advice, and be forthcoming yourself about things you’re not so good at or things you learned from hard work and experience. When you’re more transparent, it will permit your mentees to be more forthcoming with mistakes they’ve made and things that they’re struggling with at work, which will allow you to gain real insight into their circumstances and goals. When your mentees are more open and honest with you, you’ll be able to offer the most appropriate advice for them and their individual circumstances.
Always Keep Your Mentees’ Long-Term Development at the Forefront
Any time you give your mentees advice, always keep their long-term career and learning goals at the forefront. Keep an eye out for courses or articles that they may be interested in and that will help them reach their long-term goals, and share information and tips with them often. And whenever possible, create and design situations that will allow your mentees to learn and reach their developmental objectives, like having them shadow you on the job for a week or providing them with a project to oversee.
Follow the tips above, and it will be much easier to avoid giving bad advice as a mentor.