Commandant (DCMS-DPR-5)
U.S. Coast Guard
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE
Stop 7907
Washington, D.C. 20593-7907

I Want To Be a Mentor

Interested in becoming a mentor? This toolkit will give you invaluable information on how to be a great mentor, while giving you the tools to develop a mentoring relationship that is right for you and your mentee. 

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 Mentoring Tips

As a Mentor, it can be very easy to want to jump in and solve your Mentee’s problems. However, your role is to help the Mentee think through to solve their concerns or issues. This requires you to ask thought provoking questions. These questions should be open ended questions and should not be able to answer with one word only. These questions should help the mentee reflect on their experiences and learn from yours and give the mentee opportunity to:

  • Uncover additional facts and information about your mentee
  • Confirm your mentee’s goals, aspirations, and needs
  • Explore strong feeling about situations
  • Define problems and possible solutions
  • Discover your mentee’s commitment to their growth

Exploratory questions – To assess the real issues and gain greater understanding:

  • What are the most interesting aspects of your job?
  • Why did you pick this to concentrate on?
  • What do you want to gain?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What tells you that your assessment is correct? What are other people’s perceptions of this issue?
  • What assumptions are you making here?
  • What other ideas do you have?
  • How long has this been an issue?
  • What did you learn from past experiences that you didn’t expect to learn?
  • What are the reasons behind an issue?
  • Have you tried to resolve this issue before? Why or why not? If yes, what was the result?
  • What choices do you have?
  • What progress have you made?
  • What other ideas do you have?
  • How are you using the things/ideas we’ve spoken about?
  • What results are you looking for?

Empowering questions - to assist the Mentee to think for him/herself:

  • What are the skills you want to develop?
  • What strategies come to mind when looking at a situation?
  • What do you see as possible solutions here?
  • What outcomes are you after here? Are these outcomes reasonable given the circumstances?
  • What resources are available to help you move forward?
  • What key players do you need help from?
  • What other information do you need to arrive at a solution?
  • What forces may help and/or hinder you?
  • What are the pros and cons of each solution?
  • What is the first step you need to take to achieve your preferred outcome?
  • What alternative strategies should you develop?
  • How will you know you have mastered or successfully enhanced a competency?
  • How will you apply your new skill?

Mentor Remember!Ask more questions and give fewer answers to really understand the responses you’ve been given. Rephrase the answer to ensure you have heard the response correctly.

 Mentoring Benefits

Mentors gain a better understanding of the workforce; guide mentees through career planning, counseling, and assessing potential; broaden professional contacts, and experience personal satisfaction. Mentors have the opportunity to review their own accomplishments and challenges, as a reminder of lessons learned. The mentor’s willingness to share their expertise will afford them the ability to leave their legacy with the workforce by guiding someone’s career path. Mentors will receive varying benefits from this experience but below are a few to consider:

  • Personal satisfaction in helping someone grow professionally
  • Learn from the mentee
  • Build new relationships
  • Develop "teacher" skills by helping someone clarify their career goals
  • Develop "guide" skills by aiding someone to navigate throughout the organization
  • Develop "advisor" skills by helping someone to find their strengths and weaknesses
  • Receiving recognition
 Enroll Here to Be a Mentor

What is a Mentor?

Mentors are individuals offering their wisdom and share past experiences to help others enhance or advance their careers. Mentors draw from extensive and sometimes varied backgrounds that are rich with organizational knowledge and lessons learned.  Successful mentors take their responsibility seriously and possess a high standard of ethics in regards to respect, trust and confidentiality.


Mentors become champions of their mentees and take on the following four roles: 

  • Teacher - In the Teacher role, a mentor helps the mentee to assess career goals and outline plans to achieve them.
  • Guide – The mentor helps the mentee navigate the political workings of the organization. In the Guide role, the mentor shares the “big picture”. The mentor will also become actively involved in expanding the mentee’s network and challenges to develop new relationships.
  • Counselor – The will foster learning through self discovery by encouraging the mentee to think and draw conclusions for themselves. A mentor is not a problem solver and is most helpful when they enable the mentee to trust his own abilities and tap into their own inner wisdom. 
  • Challenger – The mentor provides developmental feedback on strengths as well as weakness. It is important to help mentees to understand how their actions and behaviors impact others, and themselves. This will enable mentees to be best prepared to evaluate what specific steps will need to be taken in order to become more marketable.

Mentoring Roles and Responsibilities

Mentors should: 

  • Support the mentee's development of professional and interpersonal competencies through strategic questioning, goal setting, and planning
  • Create a supportive and trusting environment
  • Agree to, and schedule, uninterrupted time with your mentee
  • Stay accessible, committed, and engaged during the length of the program
  • Actively listen and question
  • Give feedback to the mentee on his/her goals, situations, plans, and ideas
  • Encourage the mentee by giving them genuine positive reinforcement
  • Serve as a positive role model
  • Provide corrective feedback when necessary
  • Openly and honestly share "lessons learned: from your own experiences"
  • Respect your mentee's time and resources
  • Participate in the scheduled events for the program
  • Seek assistance or guidance if questions arise that you are not able to answer

If your mentee is looking for growth opportunities

  • Shadowing Events – Provide shadowing experiences and opportunities with your mentee by taking them to meetings with you and include them in other opportunities when possible. By sharing your experiences and including them in your everyday work experiences you will give the mentee the ability to observe how you demonstrate your strong competencies.

(There are many more leadership and professional development opportunities available for military and civilian members under courses: