Mentoring gone wrong creates unhealthy dependencies and uncomfortable situations for the parties involved. It is therefore paramount that a mentor understands their role in mentorship, that of being a sounding board for ideas and challenges. There are some boundaries that if observed well by the mentor, create a healthy mentorship relationship.
Here are the Don’ts in Mentorship for a mentor.
1. Don’t Make decisions for your mentee – Don’t force your will on your mentee. Allow them to make their own decisions based on the truths you present them with. A mentor is not the decision-maker in a mentorship relationship, the mentee is. A mentor guides but the decision making lies sorely with the mentee. Make sure you are not pushing your own agendas on them.
2.Don’t be over critical- Allow your mentee to voice their opinions without fear of condemnation. Don’t be judgmental. Allow them to have a say, it enhances the communication. Give honest constructive feedback. Additionally, give room for the mentee to make mistakes and don’t over magnify their errors. Correct them diplomatically.
3. Don’t be too uptight – Allow your mentee to experience the fullness of who you are. It is okay to express frustration about something, to not have answers to all the questions and to show your weaknesses. All this only goes to show our human nature. It is okay to be vulnerable before your mentee. It gives a much more authentic interaction. People who aren’t too uptight are also much approachable and easier to talk to. Hence, not being too uptight will create a better environment for your mentee.
4. Don’t invade your mentee’s personal space – Unless it’s a personal life mentorship, in common mentorship experiences, private things are better kept private. Issues which we can consider to be private include details regards spouses, children, family struggles, among other things. Allow the mentee not to feel the pressure of always bringing you up to speed with things that don’t concern you or aren’t in the scope of your mentorship agreement. Trust is built, worked on and if it reaches a point where the mentee chooses to talk about their private life then this needs to develop organically not by obligation.
5. Don’t put in less effort just because you are the mentor – Don’t assume your responsibilities In the relationship. You need to do your part as well. Which includes doing proper research on the questions asked, sharing any relevant opportunities to your mentee and providing proper guidance and inspiration. You need to be a good role model to the person you are mentoring. Let your life mirror what you are trying to pass on. Concurrently, organize your schedule accordingly and don’t be late for meetings with your mentee. Make it a priority and prepare for it.
6. Don’t take your mentee for granted. As we have mentioned severally that mentorship is a two-way street, it is important not to lose sight of the value of your mentee. Accord them the importance that they deserve having in mind that someone remembers how we make them feel and not so much of what we may say. Consider their feedback too and don’t brush it off.
7. Don’t expect to make a clone of yourself . Your mentee is a unique person with unique abilities. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. Your duty is not to make a duplicate of yourself in them but rather to make them a better version of themselves. To work on maximizing their potential and discovering themselves more.
8. Don’t micromanage your mentor. Don’t be in every single detail of your mentee’s life. Don’t seek to control every single thing they do. Give them space to be them and do them. Allow them to function on their own. Don’t allow over dependence on you, that is not what mentorship is about. Let the mentee manage themselves.
9. Don’t gossip your mentee. Imagine your mentee hearing their story from someone else, a story that they clearly stated was confidential. Be trustworthy to the information you mentee lets you in on. Be respectful and don’t gossip them to others. It kills the relationship and opens a door for mistrust which eventually becomes a downfall for the whole mentorship relationship.