Top Tips for Mentors — How to Make Mentoring a Success!

By Jennifer Pelham

Originally posted on the IBM Jobs blog.

mentorsA while back, a new colleague of mine who knew about my background in mentoring, asked for some guidance on best practices as she prepares to be a great mentor for her new mentees. While speaking with her, I thought about how awesome it is for her, as a mentor, to be taking mentoring so seriously by preparing and seeking information.  Many times we talk about how the mentoring burden falls on the mentee – but clearly – the mentors have a huge responsibility as well.

Mentors need to be just as prepared and focused as mentees. It’s really a mutual relationship – so both parties should be giving and receiving as learners and teachers. I hope that all my mentors can say they learned something from me!

So, mentors, take heart. You have the power to make mentoring a success!

Here are my top tips for mentors:

  • Create a safe and trusting environment by being authentic. This is the most important thing for a mentoring relationship to be successful and effective – and it’s up to the mentor to create this type of environment. Try breaking the ice and starting each meeting by sharing something personal. When building the rapport, talk about non-work related things and laugh together! The most effective mentoring relationships are those when mentors and mentees have great chemistry – and that often happens naturally when people can be their true selves.


  • Be present. Truly BE with your mentee in the moment. Don’t multi-task when spending time with your mentee. Give him/her your full attention. This is harder when you’re on the phone, so trying using skype or another video service, if you can’t meet in person. Also, if you’re pressed for time and can’t meet for 60 minutes, then be honest, and only set aside 30 minutes.
  • Listen and ask questions. Many mentors get caught up in giving too much advice at too soon a time. Ensure you fully understand the scope of the purpose of the mentoring relationship and what your mentee is looking for. Most of the time, people know the answers they are looking for already. It’s the mentor’s job to help pull out those answers.

I do hope you find these tips useful as you consider them in your mentoring session.

Have you been a mentor before? Drop a comment below to let us know other tips you have found useful in your mentor-mentee sessions.

Jennifer is a Social Communications & Engagement Strategist with IBM Global Technology Services. Prior to her current role, Jennifer spent over five years in IBM Talent working on career development, mentoring and social learning where, among other things, she built and consulted on various mentoring projects around IBM.

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