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The complex relationship between mentors and graduates

Mentoring is an excellent method for experienced professionals to pass on the knowledge they have accumulated during their career and a useful way for graduates to learn about their trade.

Mentoring is the relationship between a more experienced employee of the company and a fresh graduate who is seeking to gain experience in the professional field and the career he or she has chosen to pursue. It is an excellent method for experienced professionals to pass on the knowledge they have accumulated during their career and a useful way for graduates to learn about their trade.

At Finder, mentoring is a complex task that involves much more than passing on the know-how: the mentor needs to motivate, to guide and to challenge the mentee, while treating the process with empathy and firmness.

The success of mentoring largely depends on how compatible the personalities of the mentor and the mentee are, as well as the expectations each of them brings into the process. Here are a few aspects to ponder before entering into such a relationship.

Factors that influence the success of the mentoring relationship – the mentor’s personality and attitude 

Mentors should mix firmness with empathy and they need to know exactly which of the two attitudes is more appropriate in a certain situation. Firmness and persistence are absolutely necessary if the mentor is to help the mentees reach their limits, but empathy is also needed to establish a strong relationship.

Mentoring involves a long trial and error learning process, and mentors will often need to think outside the box to understand the reasons for a certain failure. Mentors should get to know their mentees as well as possible, and they should know if a situation exceeds the capacities of the mentee.

Mentors need to be authentic and should be able to do what they are trying to teach others. Educating by example is one of the most efficient ways to teach others and the majority of mentees will learn more quickly if they have the chance to see how their mentor reacts in real-life situations.

How the mentor should act

Mentors should teach the mentees how to handle difficult situations specific to a certain area of business, rather than solve the problems for them. In order to achieve this, mentors should guide mentees to see the possible solutions to the problem, facilitating decision making, but not making the decision themselves.

A good mentor must be a good listener who uses questions instead of statements, thus subtly leading the mentee towards the right decision. These questions should predominantly be open-ended in order to help the mentee analyse the implications of the decision he or she has made and so, improve.

Mentors and mentees collaborate during the mentoring process, which means that they both come into the relationship with their own expectations. These expectations must be adjusted and adapted to each other for mutual satisfaction.

Effective mentoring is based on transparency. The mentor needs to state his or her expectations clearly and any evaluation given to the mentee must be clearly formulated and constructive.

Mentoring is a two way process, the success of which depends on the communication between the participants. It can be successful only if the relationship between the mentor and the mentee is founded on mutual respect and motivation, and if the mentor has the professional and psychological knowledge necessary to offer successful guidance.

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Fred Schebesta

Fred Schebesta

Fred Schebesta is an Internet business veteran in Australia and is the Director of <a href="http://www.finder.com.au/">Finder.com.au</a>, which was founded in 2006 launching one of Australia's first <a href="http://www.creditcardfinder.com.au/">credit card comparison websites</a>. Following his momentum of success, he continued to launch comparison services for home loans, savings accounts, life insurance and mobile phones. His articles aim to share his professional and personal experiences in entrepreneurship, HR and leadership.

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