What Good Mentors Do

Perhaps the most important, and preferably first, relationship a new advisor can have is one with a mentor: someone who can share his or her professional knowledge and experience, be a sounding board for frustrations or ideas, answer the “silly” questions and help navigate the politics of the office and firm.

A good mentoring relationship also can be very rewarding for the mentor. Working with a young associate offers an opportunity to learn about the next generation, explore new ideas, and get reenergized by the excitement and ambition of someone eager to succeed.

More importantly, being a mentor gives you the opportunity to invest in the development of someone who may be able to take over your business when you decide to retire.

It’s never too early to begin succession planning, and strong mentoring relationships often evolve into productive partnerships and foster a strong sense of security in the future of a practice.

If you want to be a good mentor, here are five steps to take:

  1. Begin at the beginning – The onboarding process is the first real exposure a new advisor gets to the ways of your firm, and the source of many questions and concerns. Striking up the mentorship relationship early can help things go more smoothly for everyone.
  2. Be a positive role model – As a mentor, you will be the focus of your mentee, who will look to learn from how you behave in the office setting and with your colleagues. Try to engage your mentee by letting him or her shadow you. A good mentor just doesn’t tell; a good mentor shows.
  3. Be accessible – Strive to be available and approachable, and have regularly scheduled meetings with your mentee. Dave Timmons, a Registered Corporate CoachTM and former senior sales trainer with Raymond James, says if mentoring is a new role for you, you need not worry. “You don’t have to be the greatest mentor. You just have to be there,” Timmons says. “And have honest conversations with your new advisor. Mentees appreciate direct answers to their questions.”
  4. Be a good listener – Before offering guidance, you must learn how to listen to your mentee. In fact, a good mentor spends more time listening than talking. Try to take a genuine interest in your mentee’s personal life, too. The more you know about him or her, the better advice you can impart. Also, the more you allow your mentee to talk, the more they will be able to sort out their own confusion and reach their own solutions, which is a good sign of professional progress.
  5. Be both mentor and mentee – By playing both roles, you can get a better understanding of how each can benefit the most from the relationship. “Reach out to your mentor for guidance, or find someone you trust who has managed or coached others,” says Julie Pressnell, also a Registered Corporate CoachTM and sales trainer with Raymond James. “You stand to learn so much more if you allow yourself to also be a student while you coach, manage, engage and support a new advisor.”