Being asked to mentor a colleague is an honor, and it’s also very satisfying helping the next generation build on your experience and knowledge. Mentors are resources who should take the responsibilities of mentorship very seriously. If a colleague asks you to mentor him or her, it’s clear that the potential mentee respects your work and wants to learn from you.

If it’s time to become a mentor, don’t be “just” a mentor. It’s time to become a great mentor to return the respect shown to you by your mentee.

1. Don’t talk. Listen.

It’s your responsibility to find out all about your new associate in order to develop an effective mentorship. Sure, you’re the seasoned professional, but you may not know your mentee’s goals, what steps they’ve taken, what roadblocks they encountered in achieving personal and professional goals. Take the time to listen carefully so you can properly tailor your mentorship to best suit the needs of your mentees.

2. Be available.

Great mentors are available. Their activities intertwine with those of mentees. Job shadowing, for example, is a form of mentoring that enables newcomers to see how the industry works close up, in real time, day to day.

3. Teach, don’t preach.

If you’ve been doing your job successfully for years, don’t keep the secrets of your success hidden away. Share them. Explain them. Integrate them into the mentee’s routine, and monitor their progress.

4. Allow mentees to make mistakes.

It’s not always necessary to step in and pull your mentee back if you see they’re taking a wrong step. It may be hard to watch them make a bad decision, but we often learn our best lessons from our worst mistakes. Failure is an option – especially for anyone learning something for the first time. We learn from both success and failure. Let your mentee fail. Then, use the experience to teach an important lesson so it doesn’t happen again.

5. Realize that mentorship is a two-way street and learn from mentees.

You’re the expert, but the mentee has information that you may not have. They may be more tech-savvy, or understand how social media marketing grows businesses. It takes intelligence and humility to learn from the new kid in the office, but great mentors both teach and learn. In fact, it’s one of the greatest reasons to become a mentor. Sharing knowledge may improve job performance for mentor and mentee.

6. Pay it forward.

Remember the long-timer who taught you on your first job? Maybe they weren’t a formal mentor, but they taught you how things work and how to reach goals effectively. Becoming a mentor is a great way to honor those who helped you when you were just starting out all those years ago. Now, you’re not the “wet-behind-the-ears” kid, you’re the long-experienced authority, and you’re being asked to share the secrets of business success.

7. Provide constructive criticism.

Sure, provide a critique of your mentee’s performance, but also provide the knowledge needed to improve in the years ahead. Criticism without solutions is a morale buster. Criticize, then show your mentee how it should be done – and why it should be done that way.   

There are many ways to become a mentor. Organizations like SCORE are always on the lookout for positive, knowledgeable mentors. It’s a great way to help men and women entering the profession you know so well. Many colleges and universities have mentor programs and work-study programs that provide invaluable real-world experience.

Or, you may find a promising new hire at your company who has the raw material to become a valuable company and industry insider. All they need is a great mentor.

Mentoring is both satisfying and a way to pay it forward to those who will be running things in the future. 


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC