It is not a secret that mentoring has been and continues to be a critical piece to a person’s development. Mentoring allows new employees to get acquainted to a company and location. It allows executives to have conversations with trusted advisors. It helps all of us find and build safe relationships to grow our social networks.
After a recent Leadership Mastermind, our team wanted to share a few insights that can help you find or enhance your mentoring relationship or program.
There are a couple of common mistakes we see people make when searching for a mentor. It is easy to spot a person we admire from afar and either choose not to ask them to be a mentor because they are ‘too cool’ or quickly ask them, “will you be my mentor?”
It is okay to aim high. Do not shy away from asking a person who can provide you with direction to be your mentor. There is a large chance that other people are wanting them to be their mentor too, but the difference will be that you are the person who asked.
When asking someone to be your mentor, don’t simply ask, “will you be my mentor?” Explain your reasoning. What is the situation you are wanting them to help you with? Why do you see them as a person who can help guide you? How much of their time are you needing from them? By providing context and prepared expectations, you will look respectful, professional, and prepared, increasing your chances of getting a yes answer.
Once you have a mentor, do not waste their time. Arrive on time, be prepared, and actually take their advice. Mentors are great resources, but can also serve as your biggest advocates and best references. If they are taking their time to help you grow and develop, don’t do silly things that won’t make it worth their investment.
A quick warning we want to give you is to watch your time. If you are passionate about mentoring, you are likely someone who loves to help people. While this is a great quality, we have found some mentors who get taken advantage of or end up doing all of the work. It is okay to say no to someone or to throw a flag if you notice the relationship is no longer helping them or yourself. Mentors should be able to get just as much of the relationship. It should be beneficial for both parties.
The true purpose of a mentor is to coach and connect mentees in ways that will help them reach their full potential. By coaching, this means you are asking open ended questions, forcing them to reflect, and sharing hard truths. A lot of mentees like to bring a problem, and fully expect for you to simply give the answer. Help them solve the problem themselves. Sit in silence and just let them either talk through it themselves or internally process. Silence is one of the greatest and must underutilized tools that exists.
When you don’t know the answer or you know of a resource that can provide a better answer or solution, connect a mentee. It is okay to not have the answer, and it is also okay to share that information.
Again, mentoring can have a major impact on your career and development, no matter if you are the mentee or the mentor. These tips are a just a few to help you get started. If you are looking to start a mentoring program within your organization, let us know and we can provide you with some insights and tools to make it successful.