Having a mentor can be invaluable when it comes to positively impacting someone’s professional life, but what about on the personal side of things? A mentor provides a safe space for discussion, giving mentees someone impartial to talk to. And who couldn’t use someone to share their concerns with, especially amid a crisis?
Mentors don’t need to offer much, just empathy, an open ear, and a talent for responding in ways that help encourage a thought process allowing the mentee to reflect and grow. Mentors certainly don’t need to have all the answers, especially when it comes to providing mentorship during a time of crisis. Still, it’s important two specific actions are taken if a mentor wants to succeed in their role during a crisis.
Monitor Mentee’s Emotions
Direct Reports might be working on a limited capacity, performing in a tired, anxious, or demotivated state. It can be challenging to mentor when mentees aren’t mentally present, but it’s important to put yourself in their shoes. Especially if they’ve experienced a personal loss during a crisis. Mentors might be one of the few people mentees feel comfortable turning to for emotional support. So, mentors should keep receiving emotions in mind before pushing forward in the professional mentor role.
Mentors don’t need to come into a conversation knowing exactly what to say. They simply need to go into a conversation knowing how to listen. One tool to use is reflective listening. It’s a way for the mentor to let the mentee know that they are being heard, and the message is being received correctly. It also shows proper attention and care for the mentee.
Coming prepared to listen doesn’t mean a mentor shouldn’t offer a response. Provide reassurance and be empathetic to what someone is going through. If something needs to be done from a managerial standpoint, reset goals or reestablish expectations for the mentee. This alleviates additional stress that could make an outcome even worse for the mentee. On the human (non-managerial) side of things, offer advice, or share strategies to support their emotional state.
Evaluate Own Capacity
Mentoring to the best of one’s ability can only be done when the mentor is self-aware of their emotional well-being. Imagine carrying your own personal struggles into a conversation with someone unloading their emotional baggage on you. Would you be able to receive and respond to it best for them? Mentors should be aware of where they are emotionally during a crisis, asking themselves if they have the time, energy, and overall focus for their mentees.
If a mentor is stretched thin, they need to find a way to still stay true to their mentoring responsibilities without going off the deep end themselves. Creating a trusted group of other colleagues who can step in to provide mentorship to employees and extra support when needed, especially during a crisis. In the meantime, work on self-care. This tactic looks different for everyone. Whether it’s breathing exercises, physical activity, or going out for a drink with friends, everyone has their way of decompressing and healing whatever emotional strains they may be going through.
Someone who takes on a mentoring role might be apt to put others before themselves, by nature. But the proper care and attention cannot be provided to a mentee without a mentor who is properly taking care of themselves.