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‘What It Takes To Be…’ A Great Mentor

August 11, 2022

In a new series Pro Hair is looking at different roles in hairdressing and asking the question ‘What it takes to be…’

First up is – What it Takes to Be a Great Mentor

Being a mentor to someone at the start of their career in hairdressing can be a huge asset to their continued development both as a person and a hair professional. Robert Eaton, President of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing and creative director at the Russell Eaton salon group, Yorkshire, shares what he believes it takes to be a great mentor.


Before you can be an effective mentor to someone else, it’s essential to have experience of the hairdressing industry and the skills and aptitude needed to carve out a successful career. Nothing beats first-hand experience when it comes to teaching and encouraging someone else.

You need to listen as much as you instruct

Being a great mentor involves asking a lot of questions and listening, just as much, if not more, than giving advice. It’s important to ask your mentee what their aims and passions are — find out what they want to achieve from working with you as a mentor and then target your approach to that individual. Mentoring should always be based on open discussion that encourages the mentee to share their concerns, and goals and ask questions.

Don’t be judgemental

A great mentor will always create a relationship where the mentee feels safe to ask any question without fearing judgment. Never belittle someone for asking what to you sounds like an obvious question. As a mentor, you are there to boost confidence and empower the mentee, not to undermine them.

Let the mentee take some control

While as a mentor you will obviously share your own experiences and knowledge with your mentee, don’t make it all about you. While your methods may have worked for you, they may not be right for your mentee. Being a mentor isn’t about creating a mini-you. A great mentor will be able to adapt and help shape their mentee into the hairdresser they need to be. Without wanting to sound corny, as the mentor, it’s your job to help the mentee become the best version of themselves, not a new version of you.

Provide feedback not criticism

A mentee will make mistakes and they should be encouraged not to feel bad when they do. This is how they will learn. As a mentor, you need to phrase your constructive criticism in a way that encourages the mentee to do better next time. It’s important to think about how you pass on feedback in a way that doesn’t make a mentee feel like a failure but pushes them to want to succeed. So, rather than saying ‘That is the worst cutting technique I have ever seen!’ try phrasing your feedback in a more positive way, such as ‘Ok, so next time we try this technique I’d suggest doing it like this. How does that feel to you?’