It’s well known that mentors can change lives and enhance careers. By sharing knowledge, experience, and business contacts, entrepreneurs and new business owners gain access to information and training to accelerate their learning curve. But a few simple changes to the basic mentorship structure can make a big difference in its impact and quality.
While foundational components of mentorship like accountability, network access, building trust, and setting expectations will always be part of the equation, adding new capabilities can enhance a mentoring relationship. And with up to 61% of all millennials having a mentor these days, adding new skills to those relationships can further impact the mentee’s personal and professional growth and help them progress faster.
7 Little Changes for Better Mentorship
Here are seven little changes that can pay big dividends to both the mentor and mentee:
1. Practice Empathy
Not all mentees move at the same pace. Many begin from a strictly business point of view, while others may start with passion points and vision. Listening keenly to where their mindset comes from and how they frame their goals will help deepen the relationship. It requires listening, tuning in to the mentee’s drive, and crafting experiential feedback accordingly.
2. Access Understanding
Many people think that mentoring is structured to provide feedback and advice in the same way to each mentee. But it is vital to quickly assess their level of understanding. Some may have been formally trained in business in an academic setting, while others may have little formal business training. Others may intuit a logical path quickly, while others may need more step-by-step guidance. Gauging the mentee’s level of understanding will help determine the program’s starting point, structure, and nature.
3. Promote Independence
A mentor’s experience and background can be invaluable to an entrepreneur. But that value is imparted by motivating, stimulating, and nurturing the talents of the mentee. Once the mentee’s level of understanding has been established, mentors can push the mentee to grow and become more independent.
4. Create Benchmarks
Setting expectations is essential. But mentorship can go one step further by establishing benchmarks. The power of gamification has shown that gamified components can enhance learning and satisfaction. By creating benchmarks and celebrating their achievements, mentees can feel more empowered and productive.
5. Facilitate Reverse Mentorship
Mentoring is supposed to be a two-way street. And that goes for learning as well. There are things about culture, background, technological adoption, and other paths that mentees possess that many mentors may not. By allowing for reverse mentoring, mentors can learn new skills and craft a compelling experience for their mentees.
6. Use Multiple Modes for Connection
In the age of rapidly advancing technology in a post-pandemic world, there are now more modes of communication than ever to pursue mentorship. Zoom meetings, video conferencing, text and messaging, and good old-fashioned face-to-face are part of a new blend that allows better and more effective communication. Allowing mentees to use those most familiar to them singularly or in combination can help impart experience in a comfortable and familiar format.
7. Embrace New and Hybrid Models of Mentorship
While debates over a “return to normal” and a “new normal” are still underway, the best thing to do is embrace the hybrid of multiple modes for connection. Rather than consider it a stopgap, it may be best to craft entire mentor/mentee relationships with an understanding that this will be the way forward. Embracing this hybrid and not expecting a reversal back to the “old days” will help uncover new value-added ways for both mentor and mentees to benefit from the relationship.
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College opens up the world of training, research, and mentorship to new entrepreneurs. By helping new business leaders bring their ideas to life, their path to success can be accelerated in a way that benefits the entrepreneur, the community, and the students involved in the project. Every mentorship will be different, but by engaging HBEC’s staff and expertise, finding the proper connection to someone who can help most is easier than searching on your own. To find out how HBEC can guide you to the right mentorship experience, contact us today.