By Peter Kelly
Volunteer Coordinator – Fredericks Foundation
Many people have asked me why they should become a mentor. It is not an easy question to answer as it really does depend on the individual. To help people decide if they should become a mentor I normally go through the process of discussing the following with them:
• The reasons that individuals become mentors.
• What a mentor does.
• Why someone needs to have a mentor.
• What makes a good mentor.
Why does someone become a mentor?
The main reasons given are:
• To help someone else succeed and gain a sense of satisfaction themselves.
• To have a feeling of giving something back.
• To improve their own management skills.
• To make additional use of their own experience and knowledge.
• Improve their own personal self-development.
What does a mentor actually do?
In general, a mentor provides support by offering information, advice and assistance in a way that empowers the mentee. The business mentor is primarily concerned with helping to ensure that the business survives. They:
• Work with the client to develop a list of competencies required/needed to make the business successful.
• Act in the best interests of the client at all times and attempt to encourage and motivate. Pointing out opportunities as well as potential pitfalls.
• They will try and put themselves in the client’s shoes so as to get a complete understanding of the client.
• They must recognise what motivates a client to learn and take action.
• Help a client to set achievable goals and realistic plans and help them implement them.
• Monitor the client’s progress and provide good feedback.
• Provide a role model and pass on skills.
• Give encouragement and provide motivation.
• Be genuinely interested in the client’s development and their business.
• Enable the client to make informed decisions.
• Assess the client’s progress against the business plan.
Why does a client need a mentor?
A client must always want to have a mentor. The relationship must be mutual. Most clients understand why and how they can benefit from a mentor. They understand that they can:
• Gain access to additional people and resources.
• Get a greater understanding of how the world of business operates.
• Develop greater skills.
• Benefit from feedback from an experienced third party.
• Be helped to focus on the right goals and not be distracted.
• Increase their chances of success.
• Have a shoulder to cry on when needed.
What makes a good mentor?
This depends on the individual requirements of the client, but in general someone who has started up and developed their own business or who has been involved in business for a number of years. In doing so they have experienced all the trials and tribulations of being in business. A good mentor will have the following attributes:
• A desire to give something back.
• The ability to listen effectively and care about the client.
• Be well networked.