TL;DR: Anybody can be a mentor. Yes, anybody.

When it comes to choosing a mentor, people typically look to those who have more workplace experience than themselves. However, to be a mentor, you simply must have skills and experience to impart to the mentee, that they do not currently possess. And this doesn’t necessarily mean workplace experience. 

So perhaps we should be questioning “what qualities does an effective mentor have?” instead. In this article we’re going to explore the key elements of being a mentor – in the hope of encouraging you to become a mentor or asking someone who you may not have initially thought of, to be your mentor. So, who can be a mentor?

An individual with appealing skills

The crux of a mentorship is skills sharing. So to be an effective mentor, you must have a skillset that someone else finds desirable. And in today’s age, everybody has skills that someone else requires. For example, a less digitally skilled employee may choose to embark on a mentorship with a younger, digitally-native employee. Or, perhaps there is an employee who’s ready to embark in a management role, who may start a mentorship with a successful leader in the company. The common denominator here is that the mentor has skills that the mentee wants to acquire. 

Someone who is willing to share

Of course, for a mentorship to be successful, the chosen mentor must be willing to share his or her skillset, with no reservations. They must be motivated, willing and enthusiastic to share their experience and knowledge with their mentee, and thoroughly respect the mentor-mentee partnership. If you’re looking for a mentor within your organisation – it’s good to choose someone who has a thorough understanding of your organisational culture, as the knowledge they will share will not only impact your skillset, but also enable you to better navigate the complexities of organisational politics. 

A great communicator 

Communication is one of the most important skills for any professional. However, when it comes to being a mentor – it’s more important than ever. A mentor must be able to articulate their skills and convey them in such a way that coaches the mentee into adopting and mastering the chosen skills. This is particularly important as mentors will have to give honest, constructive feedback to their mentee throughout the time of their mentorship.

Lifelong learners

“Lifelong learner” is a phrase that’s increased in popularity in recent years. And it alludes to people who continue to learn long after formal education finishes. It’s voluntary learning, rather than compulsory and requires a lot of self-motivation. These people are well-informed about their field of work and they’re up-to-date on the latest comings and goings industry, and are continually learning to make sure they stay ahead of the game. It’s this drive and motivation that make lifelong learners fantastic mentors. 

Someone with high emotional intelligence

Understanding your own emotions is critical in any role where others are depending on you. Particularly in a mentorship, strong emotional intelligence ensures that the mentor can keep themselves in check and be sensitive to the emotions of others. This often increases empathy between the mentor and mentee – and enables the mentor to see any particular situation from the mentees perspective. As such, the mentor is likely to give more practical, constructive advice to mentees when needed. 

So, can I be a mentor?

In short, yes, we’re sure you can. If you have skills, advice or experience that others will benefit from, then you can certainly become a mentor. If you’re looking to become a mentor, here’s some top tips

  1. Establish what you’re looking for out of becoming a mentor and set yourself clear goals
  2. Find a mentee through your organisation – or speak to HR if you do not have a mentorship programme
  3. Set expectations with the mentee – and continue open and honest communication throughout the mentorship 

By applying these tips – you’ll be on your way to being a great mentor. Do you have any more tips on being a mentor? Let us know – tweet us @Grasp_hr