Being a mentor has many rewards, but like every other skill you have achieved in your career, it requires attention, the ability to adapt to a situation, and a willingness to evolve your skillset.
Here are a few tips, whether you’re a first-time mentor or you have helped many young eye care professionals take the next step toward a successful career.
1) Be flexible.
There is a great temptation to approach a mentoring opportunity by simply sharing how you have always operated. This is often direct and can come off as rigid. There’s a good chance that the person you are mentoring is a new hire, and often, they have a lot going on in their lives. They may be relocating to a new city, finding an apartment, working on a lease, and any of the other myriad of changes that come with a new position. While professionalism is to be expected, granting grace often comes with the mentorship territory.
2) Approach each opportunity with an open mind.
Successful mentoring requires that you tailor your teaching toward the learning style that best suits the person you are trying to develop. Some people learn by doing; others learn best by observing. Some people like to jump right into tasks; others prefer to take some time to prep by reading or watching videos.
3) Ask questions.
Ask questions throughout the process to ensure the person you are teaching understands the result and the logic behind the way tasks should be completed.
4) Share personal experiences.
Teach through experience. This can include telling stories of experiences you have had. Many people learn best through real-life occurrences.
5) Ask for input.
Your practice hires people who can bring something to your organization. These hires may have ideas that you should consider implementing into your process.
6) Be encouraging.
Not everyone is a natural cheerleader, but you should encourage and affirm the person you are teaching in a way that matches your style. People who take on the role of mentor find many rewards. You make contributions to your practice and your profession while making a real impact on an individual.