It can be a daunting experience, being asked to take a new-hire under your wing. Nevertheless, it’s an important opportunity that can lead to a better position and with that, a better payday. Wouldn’t it be nice to never need a signature loan again? If your boss has entrusted you with such a task, it means they see something in you that maybe your fellow colleagues don’t have. Whatever that is, it’s important to take the leadership role and run with it. Honestly, playing the role of mentor can be a tremendously rewarding experience in general, so it’s important to never back down when an opportunity like this comes your way. Here are some tips that can help you be successful when it comes time to take a new-hire under your wing.
You might think that 90% of your new job as mentor is filled with talking to your subordinate. On the contrary, listening plays an even bigger role in this scenario. Understand that the person you’re training is going to have a lot of questions for you. It’s your job to provide the right answers. Don’t start monologuing as if you’re the only person in the room with a voice. By listening to your Padawan carefully, you can easily know what needs to be said and what should be left out. The less talking there is, the less audible clutter, which makes for less confusion and more learning.
This coincides with the “listen first, speak later” approach. As you undoubtedly know from first-hand experience, we all learn from failure. By allowing ourselves to jump in a make mistakes, we can learn how to do better next time. In the same sense, you should allow your trainee to dive in and try to the job themselves (under your supervision, of course). The thing is, you can try to ‘teach’ them the job all you want, but until they’ve tried doing it themselves, they’re never going to truly learn how to do anything. After some verbal back-and-forth, encourage your apprentice to do something more hands-on. This will open up new opportunities for you to show them what they’re doing right, and even better: what they’re doing wrong.
As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Give someone a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” While it’s important to know how to do something, it’s even better to understand why it’s important in the first place. Sure, you can teach all the “hows” of the office until your face turns blue, but where it really counts is when you begin teaching the “whys” behind it all.
Just because you’re the one doing the teaching here doesn’t mean you’ve completely mastered all there is to learn. It may be true that you know more than the person you’re training, but that’s not to say your student can’t teach you a thing or two. After all, they may have some know-how in their repertoire of work experience that could prove more efficient than the way you’re used to doing things. No matter what, it’s always best to be prepared to learn.
Since you’ve taken someone under your wing, it’s important to understand that teaching your protégé how to do the job isn’t enough. You can teach all that you know, but it doesn’t end there. There will be times when your trainee is going to call upon you for help with something. Answering those calls for help is perhaps the most important part of being a mentor. It’s important to make yourself available and to be present no matter how busy the day gets. By the time it’s all said and done, your new work colleague will thank you for all that you’ve done and so will your employer.