Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we always talk about the ways someone can be a better mentor and how rewarding this type of relationship can be for all parties involved, so in this occasion want to turn the tables around and chat about things from a different perspective. There is a lot of talk about how to be a great mentor and how to cause the greatest impact in your mentees by providing the right guidance and properly directing your experience to make the most out of the sessions; but how about the other side of the partnership? Mentees also have a great responsibility to make the situation work so it is mutually beneficial. A mentor-mentee relationship has to give both parties involved the opportunity to grow and to improve personally as well as professionally in order to be mutually appealing.
Let us take a look at some easy tips to consider when entering a mentoring partnership so you can work together as a team and make the most out of this excellent opportunity.
Have clear goals
As with all endeavors, whether they are personal or professional, you must first sit down and decide what it is you want out of the relationship. A mentorship can help you find much-needed guidance when switching careers or advancing in your already chosen field of work. Trying to figure out what to do in more general terms in your professional life is also a valid goal, but the more specific you are about what you want to accomplish, the most you will be able to get out of the relationship.
Make your choice wisely
Just as important as deciding what you want to gain out of the mentorship, you have to also decide who you mentor is going to be. Whichever skill you want to gain or whatever field you want to receive further insight in, you have to look for someone who has significantly more experience than you. Your mentor has to be a person who is in a position you admire and perhaps even want to reach eventually. It doesn’t have to be the world’s top expert in that field, but it must know a lot more than you in order to help you advance.
Give just as you receive
Remember this is a two-way street and just like you are receiving help, you must also give back. There are many ways that you can do this as you also have skills that you can exchange with your mentor and even help him strengthen his own leadership and mentorship skills.
Keep communication flowing
You must actively communicate with your mentor and show interest in growing the relationship. Be inquisitive and interested, understand that your mentor’s time is valuable and they are investing that time in your growth. Keep your mentor informed of your advancement and your feelings about the partnership. Remember that you can also give feedback about their work as a mentor and thus help them get better at it.
Let your mentor speak
Listen more than you talk, take in all the information and take advantage of the learning opportunities. You do not have to show off with your mentor, to allow them to speak and get their message across. If you dominate the conversation then you aren’t doing either one of you any favors.
Trust the experience of your mentor
You chose your mentor for a reason, so if you are placing your trust in this person you have to not only listen but also follow through with the advice they give you. Mentoring sessions are there to talk about progress, to plan the next move and the pick up where you left off. If you aren’t doing what you both decided in advance, then what is the point of the mentorship?
Understand the importance of constructive criticism
Your mentor is there to give you feedback and even if you do not like it you should trust their experience. Do not make up excuses or try to justify your mistakes, remember that your mentor is not your boss nor your enemy and they are there for you. Your mentor’s goal is never to make you feel under attack, so you shouldn’t be defensive and understand the importance of the progress you are accomplishing together.
Ask the right questions
Your mentor may be experienced but they cannot read your mind. Be specific about your questions and always ask until you understand. If you come up with good ideas when you aren’t together, then write them down so you can ask when you meet or when you send them an email. A mentoring relationship is great because it will give you back just as much as you put in, so great questions will probably have great answers as well.
Always tell the truth
Be honest with your mentor, like we said before, you are in this together as a team. The more truthful and honest you are, the more benefit you will get out of your plans together. Remember they are not there to judge you but to guide you and help you be better.
Mentors take time out of their schedule to help you, so be grateful and say thanks every once in awhile. Be appreciative of what a mentor is doing for your and always say thanks.