Effective mentors never give up on their mentees. Your mentees may make mistake after mistake, but they still need great mentors in their lives to continue to encourage them to do better. We all have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. Your punishment for your mentee, therefore, shouldn’t be to abandon him or her. Too many phony mentors stop mentoring their mentees when the mentees aren’t performing well. Many of these phony mentors simply desire to brag about what they’ve done for their mentees, so when the mentees are struggling to progress, this prevents them from engaging in vain self-promotion. Your mentee should never have to wander around and search for a new mentor, and/or seek the guidance of another mentor simply because you don’t feel like being bothered with him or her any longer.
Authentic and effective mentors never make mentoring about them—they always make it about those they mentor.
To be an effective mentor, you have to have a true love for helping people. The person you’re mentoring needs your help and love. When you’re a selfish mentor, you lack the love necessary to be useful not only to your mentee but also to yourself. True mentors don’t engage in self-aggrandizement; they aren’t vain people. You have some pathetic mentors who don’t want their mentees to have achievements greater than their own.
Mentoring is serious business. If you’re not truly interested in helping people to progress in their various endeavors, then stop calling yourself a “mentor” and stop pretending like you’re so serious about mentoring. You need to recognize when you shouldn’t be mentoring anyone; you’re the one who needs to be mentored.
No one said mentoring is easy. You’re going to experience some challenges and problems while mentoring. Those challenges and problems shouldn’t cause you to become a coward and run away from them and your mentees. Those problems and challenges should come to make you an even more effective mentor by you learning to tackle them boldly and directly. Too many of our vulnerable young people are being lost because mentors are giving up on them. Many mentors often give up on these young people simply because they sometimes didn’t do what the mentors told them to do. Well, how many times did your mother and/or father tell you to do something and you didn’t do it? Exactly. Did your mother and/or father give up on you? Why give up on your mentees then?
Your mentee shouldn’t feel more comfortable talking to another mentor and seeking the guidance of another mentor more than you. When this happens, you’ve done some things that have made your mentee lack confidence in you. One of the ways you can cause your mentee to lack confidence in you is to avoid him or her. Constantly letting the mentee’s calls get answered by voicemail is a sure way to evince your disinterest. Stop avoiding his or her calls and be honest with him or her about how you’re feeling. Communicate your displeasures with him or her. Don’t be afraid to demand him or her to do better than he or she is currently doing. If you’re going to be an effective mentor, then you have to be willing to have frank discourses with your mentees. Although the conversations may be unpleasant at first, they will learn how beneficial it is for you to be open and candid with them.
If your mentee seems to change his or her mind frequently about career goals, don’t become frustrated with him or her. View this as an opportunity to assist them in becoming more focused and committed to specific career aspirations. Working in collaboration with your mentee, devise a plan to aid him or her in accomplishing career aspirations. He or she will have some specific things to work towards and focus on, diminishing those proclivities to shift frequently from one desired career to another. If you give your mentee time to talk to you, you may discover that it’s really not changes in career goals he or she really has but simply a longing to have someone listen to him or her. To be an effective mentor, you have to recognize when your mentee simply needs to talk to someone, and the successful mentor makes himself available to listen.
When another mentor has to devote a significant amount of more time to your mentee than you spend with him or her, you’re simply a pathetic mentor. What you need to do is go back and sincerely assess whether you were committed to being a mentor in the first place. Don’t let your failure to be there for your mentee result in him or her becoming a victim of depression, which can lead him or her to committing suicide. Do you really want that on your conscious?
Your mentee needs you. Don’t give up on him or her.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison