Help and advice from senior colleagues is always invaluable. Many organisations run mentoring schemes where an experienced colleague is partnered with someone more junior. To be asked to be a mentor is a great honour, but there are some important rules to follow:
>> It's not about you. The mentor needs to take a back seat in this relationship - this is not an opportunity for you to lecture your mentee about your experience and to start each sentence with 'In my day' while sucking on a pipe. A good mentor is a good listener, and considers what the junior staff member wants to get out of the relationship, and how sessions can help him/her progress in their career.
e-mail conversations suffice? Make sure you are available and once you have agreed to meet, stick to it. Also work out whether you want to set a time limit on your relationship.
>> Be demanding. A good mentor sets high standards - and sticks to them. A mentee has to see his/her mentor as a role model and someone to aspire to. We're not talking about perfection but you have to be seen as someone who has worked hard and learned from their mistakes. You also need to challenge your mentee - this is not a cosy relationship. The mentee wants to move on and can only do this by being challenged.
>> Be open and honest. This is important for both the mentor and mentee. A mentor who withholds important information or comments will not be very effective. Naturally, any comments need to be delivered in as tactful a way as possible.
For more information on mentoring go to www.cipd.co.uk