Today’s always-on business environment makes it difficult for many executives to find time to mentor others. In an interview with Dorie Clark for Forbes, Demetriouse Russell of Harvard Business School offered the following helpful tips to be an effective mentor.
- Choose wisely. You won’t be able to mentor everyone who asks for your help. When identifying mentees, Russell says that he looks for passion and focus. “I need to spend some time with them, because what I’m really interested in getting at is, how passionate are they about what they’re trying to accomplish? I can help with skill development and connections, but I need to know you’re doing this for the right reasons.”
- Set expectations. Russell tries to ensure that his mentees pay it forward and eventually mentor others. “They should also become part of the network committed to helping those who follow them,” he explained.
- Set limits. Remember to prioritize your responsibilities as a mentor wisely: you don’t want to overextend yourself by compromising your focus at work or at home. “If you’re saving the world and you’re not performing at your peak at work or at home, you’ve finally got to say no,” says Russell. “I’m not going to trade off spending time with my kid on a given afternoon to go mentor someone else.”
- Focus on the positives. Mentees aren’t the only ones who benefit from a mentor. Russell points out that every one of his mentors goes on to become part of his network, thereby “expand[ing] one’s sphere of influence.” The knowledge that he’s making a difference in someone’s life adds another layer of fulfillment.
Do you currently mentor others in your industry? What strategies for being an effective mentor would you add to this list?
More From PayScale
(Photo credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region/Flickr)