Consistency and honesty is key for mentees to grow and develop

Over the course of my professional career, mentorship has consistently served as a cornerstone, being a pivotal role in my personal and professional development. I live for the satisfaction of developing individuals, assisting them in discerning their skill sets and nurturing their professional advancement. Witnessing the tangible growth of individuals within their roles is, without a doubt, the most gratifying aspect of my professional achievements. 

Over the years, as I’ve advanced in my own career, I’ve refined my methods for helping everyone reach their goals. My job as a senior territory director is to create a strategic approach that will shape the future trajectory of our market and devise avenues for business growth. I firmly believe that the most significant impact one can make is to cultivate talent. With that impact, you are able to drive results through the people you have on your team. 

Be consistent

Earlier in my career at Aspen Dental, I was discussing an open regional manager position with my colleagues. As we were talking through potential candidates for the promotion, I had an "a-ha" moment: I had only one person on my team who was ready for the increased responsibility, instead of many people. I realized I had been so focused on developing one person that I had neglected others. This forced me to take a step back and figure out how to be strategic with my mentees. I wanted to be able to enhance their development quickly and, most importantly, consistently.

With this in mind, I put together a new training plan. I decided to dedicate time each month to every mentee’s development. On a monthly basis, I planned trainings around everything from critical thinking to communication, focusing on cultivating each person’s talent as consistently as possible.

By putting time every month into prepping worthwhile learning materials, I’ve been able to empower my mentees without wavering. Now, when a promotion or higher up position becomes available, I have many people to evaluate and consider for the next step in their career instead of just one person.

Don’t be an answer key

One of the most important messages I always convey to my mentees is: I won’t be your answer key. By that I mean I won’t always be the one to provide a quick answer to a difficult question or a solution to a challenge.

This advice may seem harsh, but many of my early struggles in mentorship involved giving people the answers too quickly instead of helping them get to the answers on their own. When you act as a mentee’s answer key, you may provide them with short-term success, but you’re robbing them of the opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As a mentor, I will challenge my mentees and walk through potential solutions with them, but I refuse to hinder their development by giving them an answer they need to arrive at themselves. By forcing my mentees to work through their problems instead of relying on me for a quick fix, I help set them up for long-term success.

Be honest and direct

In my experience, having a mentor who is open and honest is incredibly important. Mentors who beat around the bush or sugarcoat their feedback prevent their mentees from really understanding their weaknesses and what they can do to improve. Even if a mentor thinks I didn’t handle something in the best way, I would much rather that person be honest with me. I thrive on constructive feedback; when someone is direct, I can best understand where my weaknesses are and then take action to overcome them.

As a mentor, you need to provide productive conflict to your mentees. Challenge them with improving their areas of weakness, then let them accept that challenge. The tough love may be uncomfortable, but in the end, your mentees will thank you for leveling with them so they can fully develop and grow.

Being genuine goes a long way

I genuinely care about the people I mentor. I want to know what motivates them, what their lives are about, what they’ve been through and what they want to achieve. By showing my mentees that I truly care, they feel more comfortable being honest with me, which allows me, in turn, to be more honest with them. That foundation of trust means I can develop my mentees in the right ways and give everybody the best chance at achieving success.

I often tell people, "I can’t wait to see you be my leader one day," and I genuinely mean it. When my mentees can sense just how much I care, they feel empowered and energized to keep growing, developing and achieving. 


Jennifer Glass is the senior territory director of operations at Aspen Dental. Before coming to Aspen, she spent nine years in the beauty industry at ULTA Beauty. She first joined Aspen seven years ago as an office manager, and loves cultivating talent, helping people grow and positively impacting the lives of everyone around her.

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