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Pairing Mentors with Protégés

What Makes a Good Mentor?

If you were a protege placing an ad in your company newsletter for a mentor, what traits would you list as essential for the job?

First and foremost, a mentor must have the necessary job-related knowledge and skills. But professional knowledge and skills isn’t enough — the mentor also must be able to pass them on to her protege.

Professional knowledge is a start. But a mentor also needs to know and understand the organization — its politics, protocols, and norms. Only when the mentor possesses and passes on this information will the protege know how to advance within the organization.

Mentors with good interpersonal skills employ patience, active listening, and constructive feedback. These behaviors promote understanding and enhance relationships between mentors and proteges. When mentors and proteges communicate well, proteges are more likely to get the training and support they need to excel.

Finally, effective mentors have the ability to motivate others and show a genuine interest in the professional development of others.

Do you inspire the people around you? Do you have a positive attitude and an encouraging approach? These are the qualities that motivate others. If you have them, chances are you will make an effective mentor.

Good mentoring also demands that you have a genuine interest in your protege. There is no substitute for a caring attitude. If your protege senses that you want him to do well, he will typically try not to dissapoint you. If he senses you don’t care, however, he may assume he is not worthy of your support.

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