Mentorship: Tips on How to Mentor the Whole Person

Jill Lynch-Silva, talent development specialist

The Harvard Business Review revealed while more than 75% of professionals want to have a mentor, only 37% actually have mentors. Unfortunately, the lack of mentors was found to be equal to the lack of impact the mentors are having on their mentees. Whether you’re currently a mentor or have been thinking about how you could develop into one, you may ask yourself how you can buck the trend on your impact. Here are some tips to ensure you’re mentoring the whole person rather than just their career goals.

Share Your Stories and Allow Them Space to Share Theirs:

When you meet with your mentee, allow them to share their entire story with you so you may get a better understanding of what they are needing from a holistic standpoint. Have them take 20 to 30 minutes describing themselves, their upbringing, their past and their current lives. When they are finished, offer to share your story but know they may not want to know your whole life. If they do want to hear your story, share a personal and professional aspect of your life. This simple conversation starter shows them you are invested in truly understanding them and their journey.

Ask Great Questions:

During a second meeting, ask them questions like, “What keeps you up at night?”, “Who has been the most influential in your life?” or “What would you have done differently if you had the chance?”. These are just a few examples to help take the conversation to another level of significance.

Start with the End in Mind:

Have them reflect on the end of their career. At their retirement or their 80th birthday, what do they want to be said about them and how do they want to be remembered? Have them write this down in a journal or a safe place to reference in the future. When they have shared their list with you, offer to share your list with them.

Identify Their Existing Toolkit for Success:

Consider your mentee’s innate gifts, tendencies, personality characteristics and passions. Ask them questions about these subjects and take note of where they may need to develop skills and awareness.

Model the Way:

Your mentee will pay close attention to how you carry yourself in-person, online and throughout your day-to-day life. Consider how you conduct yourself in these arenas because your mentee is likely taking notes.

Mentorships can be a rewarding, though challenging, experience. While there is no one right way to mentor another, I hope that these tips help you connect in a meaningful way. Need further tips on how to find, become or develop as a mentor? Connect with us at talentdev@uco.edu.