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Being a mentor is a rewarding experience. If done right

Ted Blackwater ▼ | December 3, 2018
If you, an experienced CEO, want to be a mentor to your younger colleagues, don't jump into it. First set up some clear rules and you will see benefits on both sides. Without rules, you will just spend your time in vain.
Teaching   A good, experienced mentor is a trusted advisor
A good, experienced mentor is a trusted advisor who can turn someone's life upside down - for the better. But mentoring is not just a small chat or "You ask, I will answer relationship," it's much more, it is a relationship with knowledge and experience flowing both ways.

So, if you see a good candidate, or if someone approaches you, first set ground rules.

First, make an agreement what topics will be covered and what will not be discussed.

Is it soft skills, hard skills, managing, sales, marketing, or people relation, that doesn't matter, the point is to set a topic or a group of topic. Think of it like you are leading a school and setting up curriculum.

Second, set your expectations.

What do you want to achieve as a mentor? What does your young colleague expect? Again, talk about that and make an agreement before you start. And, make sure what do you want in return. Are you happy with a more capable person? Do you want your protégé to advance greatly or in small steps? Again, like in the school, the start and what has to be done must be clearly defined.

Third, set a timeframe.

When do you want to start? When your mentor-protégé relation will end? Will you meet occasionally at work or maybe you prefer more relaxed, out of work environment? As they say, different people have different habit, someone works best in the office, someone may learn fast in a pub, and you may prefer a third option. You must find something that satisfy both side or the relation won't end well.

Fourth, if you are a mentor, don't underestimate your protégé.

Maybe you know how to sell Coke to a Pepsi worker, but trust us, a 21-year old will set up your email before you say "Something is not working..." And they may have new business ideas suitable for their generation, so don't be a strict teacher, "I speak, you listen," but go with a two-way conversation.

And a bonus tip.

Being a mentor is not just you proving yourself that you can be a great teacher - which is great! - but that's a good way to recognize future leaders, people who think differently and may bring fresh ideas. You should definitively try to be a mentor, this is a rewarding experience in many ways.