Whether you're a mentor or a mentee, the benefits of mentoring are undeniable.

Although it isn't really a new process, mentoring in the workplace has grown in popularity in the last few years. There are a great number of benefits that come from being mentored or serving as a mentor. However, sometimes it's tough for a person acting in this capacity to know what exactly is expected in this role. Here is some career advice on being a great mentor and for making the process mutually beneficial.

Start positive

While the idea of mentoring is great, without the right mentality, you and your mentee won't reap all the benefits. If you've been asked to mentor a colleague, congratulations! This is a reflection of your employer's trust in your abilities and respect for your professionalism.

Sure, you may have a lot of other things to do, but consider this a great opportunity to develop a new skill set that will serve you well as you continue to climb the corporate ladder. Enter this relationship with the right mindset and you'll set the tone for a great mentorship.

Consider the mentee's needs

Mentoring should never be a one-size-fits-all approach because no two people are the same. Before you delve in, consider the needs of your mentee and his or her current circumstances. For instance, is this a new employee? Someone struggling with performance? Does the person have previous experience in the field or did he or she recently change careers? Your approach for a recent college graduate tackling his or her first professional role will be quite different than it would be for a veteran in the industry who is changing companies. Knowing who you are coaching is as important as knowing what you are coaching.

Train yourself first

One of the benefits of mentoring is that you are given a chance to refresh your own skills. While we generally get an overview of the company handbook upon being hired, after a while we go less by the policies and more by rote. Reviewing the policies and SOPs is not only a good way to ensure your mentoring program is productive and thorough, but it can also enhance your own work. You know the saying that people retain 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, etc.? Well, when you teach something to someone else, you retain 90% of what you learn. Again, this is a mutually-beneficial opportunity, so use it!

Build the relationship

If mentoring sessions occur during lunch or after work, try to balance sharing work practices with building the relationship. Most mentoring programs are set up for an established period of time, be it a month or a year. However, this is a colleague and down the line, after the mentoring relationship ends, you also have a partner. Given the way things are constantly changing in the professional world, that's an asset that cannot be undervalued. Leave time to make a friend, not just check the boxes for the mentoring task.

Learn from the mentee as well

There may be questions your mentee has that you don't know how to answer to, but that's okay. In fact, it's a great way to learn more about the topic yourself. In addition, you can benefit a great deal from your mentee. You may be training him or her in company policies and operations standards, but the person may come from another company and have insights that could benefit the company and your work. For instance, a mentee who just graduated from college may be technologically savvy in ways that you are not. Remember that this is a coaching process, not a management or supervisory task. You can improve your own skills through this experience as well.

Mentoring relationships are a growing trend and they are highly useful for both parties. While it can feel like more work for you, if you consider the benefits and employ these strategies, it will likely turn out to be an experience you'll want to do again!

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