No matter your industry, being involved in a mentoring relationship is crucial to your understanding of your work and of others: both as a mentor and a mentee. However, establishing a mentoring relationship can be a bit tricky. Asking someone to be your mentor, or accepting someone’s invitation to be a mentor can weirdly feel similar to a first date. What if they say no? What are we going to talk about? Is this the first of many meetings?
Never fear, a mentorship can be an amazing way for a mentee to grow in their career, and a seasoned mentor to give back and advocate for someone just starting out. With a little guidance, setting up a successful mentoring relationship can be rewarding, exciting, and fun!
How to Find a Mentor
First, let’s talk to the individuals looking for a mentor. If you’re reading this, chances are this is your first mentorship, and you may be a bit lost on how to find and establish a relationship with your mentor.
1. Firstly, you need to identify an individual that you highly respect and admire within your circle. This individual should be a bit further along in their career, be a positive role model, and be in a place where they can adequately dedicate time to being a mentor.
2. Once you’ve identified your mentor, prepare yourself for the ask. Asking someone to be your mentor is more than just a “Hi, can you mentor me?” request. Before you ask them, you need to be ready to tell them why you want them to be your mentor and what you would expect from the relationship. As the mentee, it is your responsibility to establish the pace, communication, and expectations of the relationship. Remember, your mentor is doing you a favor here, you need to treat them with the courtesy they deserve.
3. Next, schedule some time with the individual to inquire about if they’d be willing to mentor you. Let them know why you’d like them to mentor you, what you’re looking for out of a mentorship, and what style/frequency of communication you’re looking for. If they’re up for it, then congratulations! You’ve found your mentor!
4. Lastly, work on setting up a framework for the relationship. How often will you meet? Where will you meet? Will there be an agenda for conversations? Will you be wanting feedback, advice, or advocacy? Share the structure with your mentor and get their thoughts. If they’re on board, then your all set!
How to Be a Great Mentor
If you’ve been approached to mentor a friend, colleague, or someone else, congratulations to you! Clearly, you’ve demonstrated a quality that the mentee values, and they want someone like you to pour into their lives.
While much of a mentorship relationship is the mentee’s responsibility, it’s vital that you provide a few key elements to foster a strong, engaging, and worthwhile relationship.
1. Ensure that you have adequate time to dedicate to the mentorship. If you’re constantly overwhelmed and stretched thin, this may not be the proper time to mentor someone.
2. Be a positive role model. How would you want your mentee to behave and make decisions? Be sure that you are displaying those qualities in your everyday life. Your choices and actions are clearly of value to your mentee, so ensure that you are making positive ones.
3. Listen, but don’t make decisions. More than likely, much of your mentorship role will be listening to your mentee walk through decisions, choices, and trying to understand what they should do. As a seasoned mentor, it’s tempting to simply tell your mentee what to do. However, keep in mind that while you can offer up suggestions or help them process, decisions need to be made by them. This builds self-confidence and personality responsibility in your mentee.
4. Lastly, remember who mentored you. What did you like about that relationship? What did you not like? How did they help shape you into who you are today? A mentor is a pivotal individual who can build up a person beyond what that person thought was possible. Be the mentor you had, or would have wanted to have.
Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.
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