How to become a great mentor

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Every accounting and finance professional who’s had a mentor knows how valuable the experience can be. But mentoring relationships aren’t just about helping mentees learn the ropes of a job or build their careers. They can also provide growth opportunities for the mentor.

There are many benefits of being a great mentor and helping someone else succeed, these include a chance to develop leadership skills, expanding your professional networks and expanding your own perceptions and perspectives. As mentor, you also have the opportunity to develop new skills through reverse mentoring.

Here are four tips to help you become a great mentor:

1. Consider who you mentor

Forging a successful mentor relationship doesn’t always mean taking the newest member on your team under your wing. In some cases, mentoring an employee from a different department is an effective strategy. This way, employees may feel more comfortable asking questions about the culture or certain procedures they don’t want to ask their immediate supervisors.

You also could become a mentor to someone outside of your firm, providing career guidance and industry insights to him or her. In a twist to the traditional setup, you may even have the opportunity to advise a more senior executive in a reverse mentoring arrangement.

2. Create a game plan

It is essential that every mentor has a clear understanding of what their mentee wants to achieve from the relationship – is there a key challenge, skill, or relationship that they want to improve to assist with their career progression? At times, the mentor may need to guide this discussion by making it a clear what both parties can gain and how each party would like the relationship to work.

3. Be available

You'll probably find it easy to maintain the mentor relationship during the first few weeks or months, but as things pick up at work, it may become easier to let your mentoring duties fall by the wayside.

You can easily avoid this problem by including specific mentoring activities in your schedule. Set aside a recurring time for a lunch meeting or monthly one-to-one meetings for the two of you to talk about the latest challenges your mentee is experiencing, and celebrate their successes.

4. Hold each other accountable

Part of becoming a great mentor involves opening a two-way channel for feedback. Whenever you provide your advice, make sure to watch for improvement and follow up when it’s appropriate.

Ask your mentee to do the same for you. The more equal your partnership, the more mutually beneficial it will be.

Ultimately, the mentor-mentee relationship should be a growth opportunity for both parties. Not only should it give you a way to help a colleague ease into the company culture or advance professionally, but it should also provide him or her an avenue to share wisdom with you.

This blog has been adapted from Robert Half Management Resources

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