PHOTGRAPH: Kittitee Pangwang, 123rf.com

Anyone who has experienced the confusion and uncertainty that comes along with a new job would agree that having a good mentor would make the path smoother.

But what does it mean to be a mentor?

Ms Shamantha Yan, who runs a training consultancy, and career-sharing platform, said: "Being a mentor is about taking the responsibility to help, and be accountable towards less experienced individuals.

"It is about being genuinely interested in developing others by listening and understanding their challenges, providing authentic, honest feedback, advice and guidance, sharing information, and offering perspectives, insights and resources."

 

You could be a mentor
It does not mean that you need to be a veteran of your trade to impart knowledge. All it takes is the right mindset.

 

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Mr Paul Heng, the founder and executive coach of a career consulting firm, said: "The implicit obligation of a mentor is to share his or her expertise and wisdom with the mentee, so that the latter can be a more effective individual."

A good mentor is one who is genuinely willing to share and benefit others, he said.

Ms Yan said: "Anyone with an area of expertise, and the right mindset, preparation, willingness and commitment can be a mentor."

 

Are you ready?
But being a mentor is not a role to be taken lightly. It is an additional responsibility that takes time and effort to do well, shared Ms Yan.

She said: "A mentor must be mentally prepared and manage his or her time well. Being a mentor is not an opportunity to boost one's ego. The focus is on the mentee and being present for him or her.\

 

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"As a mentor, your words carry more weight. Mentorship is build on a foundation of trust, open communication and respect. It is the role of the mentor to establish that."

Mr Heng said: "The genuine interest to share with the objective of benefiting mentees in their growth is fundamental. A mentor should also hone his or her listening and coaching skills."

Ms Yan recommended aspiring mentors to ask themselves if they are ready to:

 

1. Support other people's success
As a mentor, you should not feel envious of or threatened by the growth of your mentees, said Ms Yan.

"You should be ready to congratulate and celebrate with them, help them, and get them to where they want to go or be the people they want to be."

 

2. Share their experience and expertise
Being a mentor means sharing one's time, experience, resources and connections.

 

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3. Listen and respect
Ms Yan said that a mentor should not impose his or her views, judgment and values on others- but give insights, and offer perspectives and suggestions for improvement. The mentee should be allowed to make decisions.

 

Benefits of mentoring
When carried out constructively, mentoring benefits not only the mentee, but also the mentor. It can result in a workplace that is conducive to learning.

Ms Yan said: "Navigating within an organisation can be tough. Those who have been in the company longer and serve as mentors would be able to open their networks to others to create opportunities. This will help individuals, and hence organisations, succeed."

Both the mentor and mentee are responsible for the success of the relationship.

Mr Heng said: "The mentor should also adopt a learning mindset. The ideal situation is when both parties learn from each other."

 

Creating the culture of mentoring
Shared knowledge and experience within an organisation can benefit the whole company in the long run.

Ms Yan said: "A culture of mentorship in the workplace creates a positive environment of trust and sharing, and lays the foundation for open communication and greater collaboration. It boosts employee morale, motivation and productivity."

 

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But measuring the results of mentorship programmes may require some work.

Mr Heng said: "The best way is to get the mentor's and mentee's feedback, and ask them to cite specific examples of how they have benefited from the relationship.

"The litmus test is when both parties agree to continue beyond the official mentoring relationship. Ad-hoc or informal mentoring seldom works.

"A structured approach should be put in place, along with professional training for both parties. Mentoring goals should be established at the start, preferably with measurable KPIs."

 

This article was originally published in The Straits Times Classified.

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