Difference Between Training and Mentoring
Do you know the difference between a trainer and a mentor? Both values are important in a leader, but they are not the same. Training and mentoring are both tools used to increase subordinates’ skills. Training is the act of teaching an employee or team member their job. Mentoring is the act of developing an employee, team member, peer, friend, or anyone else as a person.
As a leader we should always look for opportunities to not only train our subordinates but also mentor them. Mentoring those around us makes us a better supervisor, coach, and leader. Taking an active role in professional and personal development of those around us is an investment that can pay dividends. These investments tend to both pay off in the short term and the long term for both the mentee and the mentor.
Benefits of Mentoring
- Allows mentor and mentee to reflect on current practices.
- Increases job satisfaction for everyone involved.
- Successes are shared by both mentee and mentor.
- Personal and professional problem-solving abilities are increased.
- Mentee may become a promoter and teacher of mentor’s vision.
Related Content: What are the benefits of mentoring?
Tips to Improve Mentoring Skills
1. Communication is Key
In order to be a good mentor, we must talk and have open conversations with our mentees. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should always provide advice or chime into every conversation we overhear. If it’s something you have experience or extensive knowledge in feel free to offer your advice. Otherwise the best option might be to become a listener for your mentee. Sometimes all people need is someone to listen to them and care.
2. Take Interest
Take interest in what your mentees are doing to better themselves. A genuine desire to make your mentees better is required to be a good mentor. When your employee does something like start classes, go to a leadership seminar, learn a new skill, etc. ask them about it. Not only will this show them you care but you might also learn something too. Everyone has something to teach you. Even if it’s something you have extensive knowledge on, they may have a perspective you’ve never seen before.
3. Don’t be Too Pushy
Just because you feel strongly about something doesn’t mean everyone else will. Be very cautious about pushing too hard. Many times, the harder you push, the less someone will listen to you. As a mentor, you want to guide people, not force them to follow your advice. Sometimes people won’t listen, and you must allow them the freedom to make their own mistakes. After mistakes are made, try your best not to rub it in and say I told you so. Just help your mentee learn from the mistake and get through it.
4. Be Encouraging
Being there for your mentees can really help get them to the next level. Encourage them to step out of there comfort zone a little and learn new skills. Even if a mentee tries something and fails, they deserve encouragement for trying. You can also help them see the lessons they learned by trying. When your mentees see that you truly believe in them, they will work even harder to try not to let you down.
5. Celebrate Success
You and your mentee have put in a lot of work and successes should be celebrated. Many times, your mentee will come to you excited when they learn a new skill or complete one of their goals. Share their excitement with them. Let them know how proud you are of them. This can be done in many ways. You can verbally let them know, you can take them out for lunch, you can congratulate them in front of their peers in a meeting, just to name a few ways.
6. Invite Them Along
Your mentees are not the only ones that should be working on themselves. You should also be looking for opportunities to improve your skills. When you do something like attend a seminar, class, or anything else you do to better yourself, invite your mentees along with you. Things like this can be a lot easier to do when you have someone you know with you. This also gives you someone to talk to about the lessons you learn. Talking about the stuff you learn not only gives you a conversation topic but also helps give you both a better understanding of the information learned.
7. Decisions are Theirs to Make
Although we never want to see our mentees make the wrong decision, at some point, it is bound to happen. We must allow our mentees to make their own decisions. We are not trying to control our mentees and make them in our image. We are trying to help our mentees be the best them they can be. Sometimes this means allowing them to go in directions that we might have not gone in. We are there as mentors, to advise and support.
8. Discover Their Goals and Help Them Get There
To be a good mentor, you must know the goals of your mentee. Make sure you understand the difference between their goals for themselves and your goals for them. Don’t be afraid to directly ask your mentee what their personal and professional goals are. They may not be what you think, and they do change over time. Once you understand their goals, provide them the tools and advice to achieve their goals.
Mentees come in many forms. They can be employees, peers, friends, family, or just about anyone. You just need to keep your eyes open for opportunities to help others. These opportunities arise every day, be ready for them. Being a mentor can be very rewarding. Helping others achieve their potential is an amazing feeling.
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