How to Be Both Boss and Mentor
The Difference Between a Boss and a Mentor
A mentor, by definition, is a person who focuses on the growth and development of their mentee. It’s a deeper connection than the one between a manager and employee.
Managers care about productivity, so employees only care about their paycheck. Mentors care about their mentee and seeing them succeed. Mentors create strong relationships with their mentees by prioritizing their wellbeing. Being a boss is a responsibility, being a mentor is a commitment.
Balancing both roles is more natural than you might think.
Both are role models. You have someone looking up to you based on your set of skills and expertise, and because you have a career’s worth of experience, you have a ton of advice for those who need it. Both can even make or break a career, if it comes to that.
The only difference between boss and mentor is being a supervisor and an advisor. A mentor helps others grow. As a boss, you get to run the place and make sure everything is going smooth.
But as supervisor, you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses the best, so why not use that to your advantage? Give advice to enhance your team’s strengths and improve their weaknesses, and your team will become more efficient.
3 Tips for being a boss and a mentor
#1 Get hands-on
Don’t watch from the sidelines while your team is playing the field. There is no way you can lead without getting your hands a bit dirty and experience the game.
Lead by example
A good boss doesn’t stand in front of their team; they stand next to them. Being part of the projects you are leading, instead of just overseeing them, gives you better insight into the realities of the work. Show, don’t tell your team how to win.
Be hands-on with their progress as well.
Learn everyone’s weak and strong points when you’re doing projects with them.
Step in when a lull happens, and keep the progress going.
Lead with them in mind
The most important part of your team is your team, honestly.
Your role to lead them is to help them be more progressive, so make sure they are. Be sure to check in on them often, like with constructive personal review sessions.
Also, keep challenging your employees.
Provide opportunities to advance and motivate them to do better, and reward them for accomplishing tasks. A team that feels like their accomplishments are acknowledged will want to do them more often.
#2 Don’t Micromanage
Employees respond better when you aren’t domineering. You can establish your authority, but acting as if you are better than all your employees won’t make them respect you as their boss.
Don’t Hold Their Hands.
There is no need to peer over your team’s shoulders all the time when you’re trying to be involved.
Trust that your employees can complete tasks, and will ask for your help if they need it. It will reduce a lot of pressure on both ends. If they need help, show them ways to solve the problem.
Communicate both ways
Let your team make decisions with you. For example, in meetings, ask for feedback on ideas, or ask people what can be done to make the task better.
#3 Don’t take excuses
Let your employees make mistakes, but make sure they learn from them.
Mistakes are great ways to give your team advice on how to do things better.
Answer Their Questions
Make your team comfortable with asking questions. If your employees fully understand the task, they’ll do it well the first time. Plus, it establishes a trusting relationship between you and your team.
For a boss, mentorship is hidden between the lines of your job description.
How can your team do well if you don’t try to motivate them and help them improve?
It seems obvious that your team will like you if you are their friend, but the respect for you comes from how much you care about productivity, not how nice you are.
Don’t treat your employees like your inferiors.
Even though you’re delegating tasks to them, forcing them to do things won’t make them more productive.
Being both boss and mentor means being able to encourage your team to do better, and creating strong individuals who make an even stronger team.
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