Being a mentor can be rewarding in many ways. You get to share your knowledge and pay it forward. You get the satisfaction of seeing your mentee develop and realizing how far you’ve come in your own career. If your goal is to make the move from individual contributor to manager, your role as a mentor can be a great stepping stone.
You learn by doing. What better way to prepare for a management role than by developing your leadership skills with your mentee? This can help you build a strong case for your ability to lead and successfully develop others.
Here’s how your role as a mentor can help you transition into management.
1. Practice your coaching skills in a safe space
Practice makes perfect. Mentorship provides a low-risk environment to refine your coaching strategies and tools.
● Practice problem-solving skills by helping mentees work through their challenges
● Strengthen your interpersonal skills
● Learn how to effectively support and encourage someone who looks to you as a leader
2. Grow as a leader through feedback from your mentee
It’s much easier for someone who isn’t a direct report to share their honest feedback, as they aren’t worried about jeopardizing their relationship with their manager. Mentees are valuable resources for your professional growth and their feedback can direct you to areas that you may need to develop to be successful in a managerial role.
3. Learn to give and receive constructive feedback
Given in the right ways, feedback can be life-changing and help people reach their potential. Given in the wrong ways, it can be ineffective and demoralizing - and even make performance worse. Just as it's important to know how to give feedback, you should also learn how to receive it the right way too. As well, giving feedback to mentees can teach you to quickly identify strengths and weaknesses in employees to help them maximize their potential and reach their goals faster.
5. Practice active listening skills
According to Tech Republic’s Polly Traylor, “Listening is harder than most people realize because it is an acquired skill just like reading or writing, according to Manny Steil, a listening expert and CEO of Communication Development, Inc., in St. Paul, MN. For IT managers, it is probably one of the most valuable skills to learn. No matter how technically adept, personable, and organized you are, without being able to listen to your bosses’ requests or your teams’ concerns, you won’t be an effective leader.”
6. Identify potential leadership abilities in your mentees
Aside from the short-term benefits of mentorship, you’ll be able to help recruit good managers down the line. You can fill manager pipelines by evaluating your mentees on their leadership potential by gaining a deep understanding of goals, strengths, and weaknesses. You’ll also gain a better understanding of how you’ll be vetted for potential leadership roles.
7. Expand your network
It always helps to grow your professional network. As your mentee grows in their career (whether inside or outside of your current company), they may be able to open doors for you. Your mentee is one more person who could potentially refer you for positions, clients, or other opportunities.
Please share this post with your networks using hashtag #nextplaymentoring. You can email us at Charu@nextplay.ai if any of this resonated with you - and especially if you have a mentorship success story to share!