Chances are, at some point in your life, a friend, family member or colleague will come to you for advice or guidance on an idea that they have. You should view this as the ultimate compliment, because this person values your opinion and respects what you have to say. They are looking for you to be a mentor in their life.

Being in a position of mentorship is not only honorable, but also comes with great responsibility. No matter what your relationship with the person, or how much you like their idea, agreeing to be a mentor is a significant commitment of your time and energy. You’ll need to be prepared to make the most of both.

To help you build and sustain a successful mentoring experience, here are a few tips for you to follow the next time someone comes to you for support:

• Communicate clearly. As you have discussions with your mentee, listen with full concentration on what is said. What is the underlying message? Periodically relay back what you think you have heard to be sure you understand. Remove distractions from your environment (home, office, classroom, etc) to make sure you can hear and understand everything. In addition, make eye contact with the person and observe their body language for cues on how they feel.

• Be quiet. Allow the person to say all they need to say, without interruption. As you communicate and work together to clarify parts of their idea, avoid jumping to conclusions. Also, pause before responding, so that you can be impeccable with your word.

• Involve the person you coach in identifying issues and setting goals. Likewise, involve him or her in solving problems and making decisions. As much as they want you to be an integral part of supporting their idea, you want them to feel like they were just as much a part of the development process.

• Set high standards. The standards you set and emulate are the most you can expect from the mentee, so raise the bar and see it through to the end.

• Define what “positive results” look like and how performance is measured and tracked with the person. Discuss and write down the end goal of the idea, and set milestones along the way that hold you both accountable.

• Explain why a particular approach is being taken, especially if the approach differs from that which was mutually determined. Sometimes, we need to deviate from the original plan. Be sure to communicate if and when this is the case, so you can maintain a clear objective.

• The more you delegate to others, the more others learn. Provide resources so that others can succeed. Develop your own secession plan by delegating to and growing others’ roles.

• Involve people in your thinking so that others will know, understand, learn, and support the process leading to a particular decision. You can generate outside support for the idea by communicating to others who are likely to support and facilitate it.

Remember, when someone seeks you out as a mentor, they do so for a reason. Should you choose to assume that role, adopting these tips will not only help the mentee reach their goal, but will also help you grow and learn through the experience.

Author's Bio: 

Sylvia Henderson is Chief Everything Officer (CEO) of Springboard Training—your springboard to personal and professional development. She is an author, workshop facilitator, speaker, and business woman. She provides people, tools and resources that focus on professionalism and work ethics (employability skills) and leadership...helping people & organizations show they are as great as they say they are.