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  • Linda C. Harris, M.S. Training & Performance Improvement

Keys to Becoming an Empowering Mentor

The term mentor can be traced back to Greek mythology. When Odysseus left for Troy, he left his friend Mentor in charge of his son. Mentor was to serve as his educator. The word mentor is currently defined as "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher." (

At the beginning of a relationship, mentors are more empowering when they listen and acknowledge, before offering advice.

• Begin with a balance of asking for information and offering information.

• Make sure the mentee understands that your communication is confidential.

• Discuss the mentee's expectations of your role as a mentor. Be clear about what you

can and cannot do and how accessible you can be.

• Goals must be the mentee's goals, not yours.

• Ask questions to have the mentee explain strategies to reach expressed goals.

• Discuss a range of education and training programs suited to the mentee.

• Tell the mentee about the negative consequences of repeatedly not following through

on stated intentions.

• Offer feedback/comments about inappropriate or ineffective behavior.

• Discuss your experience to help the mentee think about and examine options.

• Share difficulties you have overcome if they may provide insight.

• Encourage the mentee to move away from old habits that get in the way of moving

toward expressed goals.

• Express your confidence in the mentee's ability to succeed through perseverance.

Your job as a mentor is to form a trusting relationship with the individual mentee in order to facilitate the growth of that individual.

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