Whether or not being mentored has been a part of your past and present, there will likely be a time when another stylist wants you to mentor them. It’s a flattering and valuable opportunity to take a stylist under your wing, guiding them through the ups and downs of the stylist career. But how do you make it work? Here are six things to keep in mind when learning the ropes of a budding mentor relationship:
Mentors first and foremost need to be someone who is easily accessible and open to communication. If you never answer your email, rarely check your phone messages, and make it hard to schedule time to chat, then your mentor relationship is doomed to ever be successful. Even with a busy schedule, make sure you’re setting aside planned time for conversations, whether a lunch, phone call, or other way to keep in touch.
Support without intervening.
Mentors often have a hands-off approach. They listen–the golden keyword to mentorship–to problems and complaints, aspirations and goals, and then they give advice and support. It might be tempting to jump in and try to fix a problem for them, but you’re not their parent. You’re their mentor, and mentors guide.
No one is perfect, and you certainly weren’t when you started out. Mentorships work well when connections and understandings are made. Be open about your own failures and problems similar to the ones your mentee is facing. Talking about them in the open makes you human and, as a result, more helpful.
Criticize not terrorize.
No one likes to be told what they’re doing wrong, but a dose of reality is important for success. When it comes to criticism, makes sure it’s thoughtful, realistic, and comes with advice on improvement. Blunt criticism and harsh words that come with no explanation, discussion, or chance for questions are just as unhelpful as no criticism. It also jeopardizes relationships.
Mentor relationships aren’t one-sided. Even if the person you’re mentoring is years younger than you, chances are you’re going to learn something in return. Their training, background, and perspectives can be completely different, meaning you have a chance to engage and learn viewpoints and tips you might have never considered. Maybe they’re a whiz at social media and you’re not, or maybe they rave about the performance of TiGi Conditioners and you’ve never tried ’em. Be open to discussions that leave you the mentee and student for a change.
Know when you’re not a good fit.
Not every relationship is meant to succeed. If you and your mentee don’t click after a sufficient period of time, it’s okay to gracefully back out. Consider who else you know might be a good fit for them based on personality and needs.