Unlocking Mentorship Success: Insights from Experienced Mentors

Unlocking Mentorship Success: Insights from Experienced Mentors

Written by Eleonora Belova


Are you interested in becoming a successful mentor but need help figuring out where to start? 

Mentorship can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with challenges. With the increasing importance of mentorship for personal and professional growth, it’s crucial to have guidance on becoming a good mentor. We’ve gathered insights from experienced mentors who have successfully guided others in their careers.

In this article, you’ll learn about the tips and tricks these mentors recommend for being an effective mentor. From setting clear goals to cultivating a supportive and collaborative relationship, their advice will help you on your mentorship journey, whether you’re a seasoned mentor or just starting.

Keep reading to discover what it takes to be a great mentor!

Be an Active Listener

Active listening is a skill that requires patience, empathy, and interest in the mentee’s growth journey. It helps mentors build trust, strengthen relationships, and guide mentees toward making well-informed decisions. 

Aishwarya Nair, Data Scientist at Trivago, emphasizes that active listening transforms mentorship into a dynamic and enriching experience where communication is key. It helps both mentor and mentee learn, grow, and succeed together.

“As a mentor, I have encountered the misconception that mentoring is a one-sided relationship where the mentor is the only person responsible for imparting knowledge to the mentee. However, a good mentoring relationship involves a two-way learning process with mutual goal-setting. I have found that actively listening to my mentee, showing empathy, and asking clarifying questions help me set important goals for the mentee. When I don’t fully understand situations, summarizing my mentee’s perspective helps us establish better communication and build rapport and trust. Therefore, as a mentor, a successful mentoring relationship requires active listening and mutual learning.”

Aishwarya Nair, Data Scientist at Trivago

Set Clear Goals 

The balance between clear goals and support helps mentees build confidence and resilience. Adriana Zencke Zimmermann highlights that clarity is crucial in a mentor-mentee relationship. Mentors create an environment where mentees feel empowered to excel, learn from challenges, and work toward their envisioned success.

For Adriana, a good mentor recognizes the mentee’s potential and encourages them to step out of their comfort zone. Mentors inspire mentees to push their boundaries and discover their capabilities by setting challenging, attainable tasks.

“A good mentorship relationship can be created by setting clear goals and expectations combined with the right challenges and motivation. Clarify the mentee’s goals; for example, when the goal is too broad, try to break them down into small, tangible ones. This activity will create clear expectations and make it easier to track progress. Ensure it aligns with how you can better support the mentee; it is a combined effort. 

Pay attention to your mentee’s needs at the moment. A practical example would be the mentee who says learning React is difficult but has difficulty working with Javascript. So, challenge your mentee to think about what would be better to focus on first. Note: It is okay if they still want to focus on React; it is their current motivation. Motivation plays a substantial role in the process, so try to understand what motivates your mentee, and based on that, you can find the right challenges to reach desired goals.

For example, if the mentee aims to learn concurrency with Java, identify the best way of learning it: by books, blog tutorials, videos, or hands-on. Based on that, you can recommend materials, pet projects, hands-on sessions together, etc. Every person is different, so give it a try, and if it does not work, try another approach, but try to keep you both motivated.”

Adriana Zencke Zimmermann, Senior Software Engineer at Personio

Be Patient 

Ana Nogal, iOS Engineer at Novoda, makes a great point that effective mentors understand that growth takes time. Mentor’s patience helps mentees build confidence and resilience while fostering a positive learning environment. Creating a safe space where mentees feel comfortable speaking up and sharing thoughts is also essential. 

“A good mentor should be passionate about what they do. When you are passionate about what you do, it’s easy to communicate it and be empathic, patient, and humble. So, when you transmit that passion to your mentee, you are an innate motivator, and they will feel it, be more open to learning, and make an effort to thrive. After all, the mentorship is theirs, and we are only there to orient, help to plan, and guide them the best we can.”

Ana Nogal, iOS Engineer, Novoda

Give Ownership

Cherrelle Morales, Senior Technical Consultant, Capita, is convinced that cultivating a sense of ownership and active contribution could make a journey exciting and make mentees feel the fulfillment of positively impacting the process.

“Giving each mentee responsibilities so that they feel involved and active during mentoring sessions. For instance, in my group of four mentees, one is responsible for taking minutes/notes during our meetings, another takes charge of managing the board or agenda, a third mentee organizes group sessions to share their skills, and the last one assists anyone who may be struggling, taking turns to offer support. This proposal makes sense and contributes positively to our mentoring sessions.”

Cherrelle Morales, Senior Technical Consultant, Capita

Final Thoughts 

We’ve collected the essential principles that can guide you as mentors to contribute positively to mentees’ journey and growth! 

They are collaboratively building the fundament of the pyramid, and there are many other practices, including delivering constructive feedback, celebrating achievements, and nurturing a growth mindset, all to help you make the most of your mentoring! All of these efforts are aimed at maximizing the benefits of your mentoring experience. If you have your tips and instruments, we also want to hear about your experiences to expand our understanding of effective mentorship!

Don’t hesitate to apply to be a mentor through the WWCode London Mentorship program. You’ll find inside resources like the mentor pocketbook, tips from our members, and support in our Slack channel! Remember: it’s never too early to apply as a mentor! 


Thank you to Irina Kamalova , Adriana Zencke and Marina Aguiar for their valuable contributions and expert insights during the review process of this article.