7 practices of a great mentor

Friday, January 8th, 2016


The idea of mentorship is often misunderstood and in many instances the true value of it is grossly underrated. Those that have chosen to become mentors often face some very challenging situations and have to make some fairly interesting decisions. When entered into positively and wholeheartedly, the mentorship that one provides will have an invaluable and life-changing impact on those who are taken under-wing.

Mentorship commonly occurs in a very informal manner. People ask their friends, family members, peers and employers to be their mentors. For those who say yes to this magnanimous responsibility, a question naturally arises — how do I become a great mentor?

To assist you in your journey of mentorship, we have compiled a list of the top seven practices you can implement in order to be great mentor:

  1. Start by getting to know your mentee
    As obvious as this may sound, it is vital for you to establish a bond with your mentee. Nothing of substance will happen unless you have a good, healthy relationship that is built on the fundamentals of trust, value, respect and appreciation.
  1. Establish working agreements
    It is vital that you and your mentee set ground rules from the word “go”. Do this by establishing basic structures that you and your mentor will abide by. This will ensure that you can work with set and realistic expectations.
  1. Support and challenge your mentee
    You mentee needs to be comfortable within the relationship they have with you. Yet, in the same breath, you also need to challenge your mentee to bring out the best in them. Tough love isn’t always the answer; your mentee also needs to see a softer side of you.
  1. Engage in meaningful conversation
    Light banter on occasion is a great way to strengthen your bond. It is, however, imperative that you try and go deeper—dissect your mentee’s state of mind. Ask them about their successes or past failures—what they like and dislike about themselves. These types of conversations will help you to identify what pressing issues you may need to deal with.
  1. Ask questions rather than give answers
    Allow your mentees to arrive at their own insights rather then drawing conclusions for them. Consider asking probing questions; push your mentee think deeply and reflect on their actions and decisions.
  1. Balance talking and listening
    One of the reasons people seek mentorship is that they want advice and guidance from people who have “been there and done that” successfully. As a mentor you are naturally inclined to give advice every chance you get—avoid this. A mentee wants more than good advice, they also want someone to listen to them and hear what they have to say.
  1. Remember that mentorship is all about learning
    If you take the step to become a mentor it is important that you do so with an open mind. Be ready to teach, but most importantly be ready to learn from your mentees as well. Take the time to develop robust learning goals for you and your mentee. Remember when you grow, your mentee grows.

Through our 18+ campaign, SAB is asking responsible people to take up the mantle of mentorship in the stand against underage drinking. To find out more visit: http://www.sab.co.za/responsible-consumption/bethementor/



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