How to Become a Mentor (With FAQs)

Updated June 30, 2023

Many individuals find success in their career thanks to having a mentor who encourages them and helps them reach their goals. Mentors are beneficial in many workplaces for the support they provide different members of the staff. Being a mentor is a rewarding experience because you can make a difference in someone else's professional or personal life.

In this article, we discuss what a mentor is and what they do, and provide the average yearly salary of a mentor, steps to become one and some frequently asked questions (with answers) about mentoring.

Key takeaways:

  • A mentor is someone with experience and wisdom who can help guide others by providing them with advice and helping them build their skills.

  • You can become a mentor by expanding your professional network and learning about employee mentorship programs where you work.

  • Leadership, respect, communication, encouragement, listening and knowledge are skills and attributes mentors can use to be successful.

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What is a mentor?

A mentor is someone that another person can turn to for advice, guidance and as a resource. Mentors usually take on their role at an organization, but you can be a mentor outside of a workplace too, providing mentorship to someone who needs some support and direction in their personal life. A mentor is also there to motivate, serve as a role model, share resources, encourage their mentee and keep their mentee's best interests in mind.

What does a mentor do?

A mentor works with their mentee and helps them reach their goals. A mentor may start the mentor/mentee relationship by asking their mentee what they hope to gain from the experience. They may also encourage their mentee to share more about where they are in their career and the goals they have for their future. A mentor can help their mentee realize and achieve their goals through preparing, training and networking.

Mentors give extra support to a mentee different from what they'll get from coworkers and their manager. The support they provide can help their mentee grow both professionally and personally.

A mentor meets with their mentee regularly to check in on their goal progress and figure out ways they can continue to help them move toward goal achievement. They may find out what's holding their mentee back and provide suggestions on how they can positively move past it. Mentors provide resources to their mentee so they can learn a valuable skill or attend training to learn more about the industry they work in.

Read more: 8 Mentoring Topics for Discussion

Average salary for a mentor

Mentors make an average of $46,765 per year in the United States. Along with their salary, mentors can enjoy other company benefits such as paid sick time, health and dental insurance, mileage reimbursement and a flexible schedule.

How to become a mentor

Follow these steps if you want to become a mentor:

1. Find out more about your employee mentorship program

If you're interested in becoming a mentor in your workplace, first ask your manager or human resources professional if there is a current employee mentorship program in place. A lot of organizations form these programs so that all employees can benefit from having someone in the workplace who can guide them in their career. If there is a program, find out more about it, including the qualifications you must meet to become a mentor.

2. Consider being a mentee first

One of the best ways to prepare for your role as mentor is by being a mentee first. As a mentee, you can understand the process more, get advice about how you can be an effective mentor when you're ready, and know how you felt as a mentee about what your mentor did or didn't do that made a difference. You'll be able to note the questions your mentor asked, how often they met with you and more to develop your own way of mentoring.

3. Get excited for the opportunity

Be sure you show how much you're looking forward to being a mentor. Your excitement will impress your manager and whoever your eventual mentee is may notice too, making them excited for the pairing if they get placed with you. Your excitement will also transfer over to your sessions with your mentee, who will be able to tell that you are passionate about your role and committed to making the most of the relationship.

4. Become proficient in multiple areas of the workplace

One of your responsibilities as a mentor may be to coach your mentee on performing certain tasks in the workplace, so it's important that you are already knowledgeable about them. The more areas of the workplace you're familiar with, the more helpful you can be to your mentee when they need to learn something new or are struggling with understanding a program or procedure.

5. Express your desires to be a mentor to your manager

Once you've shown your manager you are a knowledgeable and valuable part of the organization, consider approaching them to let them know that you want to become a mentor to others in the workplace. You may want to guide someone from another department or mentor new hires who can benefit from some guidance during their first couple of months of employment.

6. Show your willingness to help your teammates

Any manager will want to see that you are open to and willing to help your teammates, even the ones you aren't mentoring. If you notice a teammate who is struggling with their responsibilities, see if there is anything they can delegate to you. Even if you aren't officially a mentor yet, check in with new employees in your department to let them know you're available to answer questions or guide them through a process they're unfamiliar with.

7. Find a mentee that matches well with you

The mentor/mentee relationship will benefit the both of you if you're paired well. It's important to consider your personalities, goals of being a part of the partnership and what the mentee's aspirations are. You want to make sure to consider the mentee's needs so you can determine if you can provide what they need and be a helpful resource for them.

8. Set expectations with the person you're mentoring

To be a great mentor, set expectations with your mentee. You can let them know what to expect from you, but also be willing to hear from them what they expect from the relationship. Part of setting expectations is talking through what you plan to cover during your time together, how often you'll meet and any goals you want to reach together.

9. Stay open-minded about your mentee

Even if you've worked with your mentee before, a mentor/mentee relationship will likely be a lot different. Also, if you're automatically partnered with your mentee through a program, you may not know anything about them and it may not be natural for them to open up at first. Stay open-minded about the partnership and feel confident in what you can provide to your mentee.

10. Inspire, motivate and empower your mentee

Once you're a mentor, you have the unique ability to inspire, motivate and empower your mentee. You can be their champion and coach to help them feel confident in their abilities, more sure of their career path and empowered to do things like speak to their manager about increasing their responsibilities, apply for a promotion, ask for a raise and request to lead a project. You can have a direct impact on your mentee's career success.

Read more: How to Empower Yourself and Others

11. Use your mentoring experience for your professional development

As a mentor, you'll learn a lot about others and about your abilities to encourage them towards a goal. Each time you serve as a mentor, you'll have more you can add to your resume for your professional development. You should be able to develop soft skills that can help you in any role and learn more about communicating, staying positive and encouraging another person.

Read more: How to Set Professional Goals for Career Advancement

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Frequently asked questions about mentoring

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about mentoring:

Is being a mentor a leadership role?

While serving as a mentor means you will guide your mentee, it's not necessarily a leadership role. Usually mentors do not serve as a manager or supervisor to their mentee, and mentors often work in a lateral department to the mentee.

Does mentoring work?

Mentoring works most of the time, although there may be struggles if the mentor/mentee pairing isn't the right fit. Mentoring can benefit both mentees and the organizations in which they work. Mentees may experience greater career success and confidence in their current role, while a business that supports mentoring may benefit from more employee loyalty, higher employee engagement, more teamwork among office mates and less employee turnover.

What qualities make a good mentor?

A good mentor must be respectful, have excellent communication skills, encourage others, be open to receiving (and comfortable giving) feedback, be a good listener, have some knowledge about the subject the mentee wants to discuss and enthusiasm for the impact they can have on another person.

What do I talk about during a mentorship session?

As a mentor, it's important to ask your mentee what they would like to discuss. Allow them to lead the conversation, or at least provide a good starting point for you. Ask your mentee what they want to work on, what their goals are, what they are motivated by and their expectations for you.

How do you build a good relationship with a mentee?

Having a good relationship with your mentee is critical. To build a healthy relationship with them, show your commitment to being their mentor, let them make their own choices with your encouragement, actively listen, remain positive, choose realistic goals together, support their decisions and be so open to what they have to say that they feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns.

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