How to be a good Mentor

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An effective mentor:

  • has a genuine interest in others and enjoys seeing them grow

  • is recognised for his or her good interpersonal skills

  • is responsive to others’ needs while leaving decisions and actions to them

  • is willing to commit time to his or her mentoring responsibilities

  • is willing to share knowledge, skills, experiences, information and wisdom

  • behaves professionally throughout the mentoring relationship

  • is at ease with him/herself and recognises the value of bringing humour into the mentoring relationship.

  • is trustworthy and respected

  • meets the needs of the mentee at the time, as specified in the profile matching

  • is open to learning and growing from the mentoring relationship

  • is clear about his/her motives for becoming a mentor.

Compare your competencies:

  • Check you have most of the competencies or characteristics the mentee is looking for before accepting the mentoring invitation.

Build rapport:

  • Establish and reinforce rapport at the start of every online mentoring session.

  • Make sure your online communication is clear and easily understood.

Goal clarity:

  • Be clear about your mentee’s objectives.


  • Be prepared to confront your mentee, but do it constructively.

  • Challenge your mentee’s assumptions, if appropriate.


  • Acknowledge your mentee’s efforts and ideas.

  • Keep a good balance between challenge and encouragement.

No-one’s infallible:

  • Be willing to admit to your own errors of judgement or mistakes.

Seek feedback:

  • Ask your mentee for feedback about the progress and health of your mentoring relationship.

  • Be receptive to feedback from your mentee.

Be prepared to learn:

  • Your mentoring relationship can be a great learning opportunity for you, too! Conversely a domineering “know it all” attitude can cause your mentoring relationship to fail.

Limit your talking:

  • Limit your contributions to the online exchange (and telephone or face-to-face exhanges, if you progress to that stage) to 20% of the total, so that the focus stays on the mentee.

  • Give your mentee enough time for reflection, i.e. silence can be good.

Introduce some humour:

  • Introducing humour can add fun to the relationship and ensure you don’t take yourself or the issues too seriously.

Don’t … :

  • give advice without being asked for it.

  • think you know better than your mentee what is in his or her best interests.

  • jump in with your own experience before helping your mentee to explore issues/options fully.