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How to Be a Mentor Not a Boss

Blog / November 8, 2018

Being a boss can be a daunting challenge for a lot of people. There’s much to consider when you manage people, especially if you’ve never done it before. You have to read personalities, hire the right skills, and resolve interpersonal disputes. But if you change your mindset and start to view yourself as a mentor and not a boss, your effectiveness will change immensely. Here’s how to be a mentor and not a boss.  

Hire for personal attributes

A boss hires for skills. They look at a resume, evaluating whether it has the right qualifications and experiences. Sometimes they’re unrealistic, expecting a candidate who can’t possible exist. But a mentor hires for attributes. They look for those soft, transferable qualities, like passion, good communication skills, the ability to work hard, show up on time, and problem-solve. A mentor recognizes that other skills, specific to the industry, can be taught with comprehensive training after hiring. 

Orient and train new employees 

A good training program is absolutely crucial for ensuring that employees are engaged in their work, productive, and committed to your company. Be patient as you explain procedures and answer questions. The more patient you are with your employees during training, the more effective the training will be. If they feel comfortable asking questions and know that you’re there to support them, they’ll be able to truly focus on what they’re learning. But if they’re nervous or anxious around you, they won’t be able to concentrate on the new skills and procedures you’re trying to teach. 

Teach life skills 

Instead of teaching skills that can only be used within your company, a mentor teaches skills that will be valuable throughout the employee’s entire career. When the employee makes a mistake, the mentor helps them walk through the process of correcting it and learning from it. 

Earn loyalty

A mentor earns loyalty from employees by treating them with respect. Instead of ruling over employees like a boss might do, a mentor recognizes that it’s important to grow loyalty by appreciating employees, rewarding their good work, and being understanding of their commitments outside of work.  

Empower employees

A boss micromanages employees and oversees their every act, preventing them from ever learning, making a mistake, or fully engaging in their work. But a mentor gives employees space and freedom to make decisions on their own. This freedom allows them to take ownership of their projects and invest in their work. 

Be committed

Focus on the employees you’re mentoring. Instead of rushing through your interactions with them so you can hurry along to the next task, take the time to be present for each individual—just as you would with your own child. When they make mistakes, give them the chance to correct themselves without being harsh or judgmental.


For more interview tips on how to mentor your employees, check out our website at

Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh