The Mentor and the Mentee have a relationship. It takes time. You need to get to know each other, to have meaningful conversations. Don’t expect to ‘click’ immediately, take the time to develop the relationship. Understand what you both will benefit from, with the arrangement. One of my mentors and I discussed the importance of trust to create a safe learning environment. This is built by getting to know each other, respecting the importance of confidentiality and creating a framework to support how you will work together.
Listen to everything.
Listen on topics relevant and those that don’t seem immediately relevant. Notice that I didn’t say ‘irrelevant’. We all know that listening is a must as undisciplined listeners can lose up to 50% of the content of a conversation. Learning to listen to take the most out of conversations is so important. I often say to mentees, “one of the roles and responsibilities of the Mentor is the challenge the Mentee has to stretch their thinking and test their assumptions and beliefs“ Listen for when you are being tested and how looking at the world from a different view will support new learnings.
Know where you want to go.
Your mentor is there to take you on your journey. They can help guide you to the destination, however it will be hard for them if the end point is uncertain. If you can’t articulate this, it is a potential waste of the Mentee and Mentors time. Each Mentor brings a different set of skills and strengths, by identifying what a Mentee would like to focus on will ensure the Mentee is working with the right Mentor.
Even for informal meetings. What do you want to get out of that session? Set an agenda – and prepare with information to bring or send through beforehand if necessary. Mentors are human – they can think on their feet, however you may not always get the best out of them if you haven’t allowed them time to prep. A good tip is to create a mentoring partnership agreement. This will give you the opportunity to discuss things like; what you will work on, the term of your relationship, what areas you will focus on, mode and frequency of communication and how you will measure your success.
Be part of the relationship in between meetings.
Reflect on the conversations, act on the advice, drop an email to your mentor if you have a win or some success because of this. I love it when my Mentees have taken the time to let me know how they have implemented the learnings they have acquired during the time we have worked together. I also appreciated when working with a Mentor how they took the time to acknowledge me when I had a win.
Need more advice?
I’m planning a webinar on Skype for Mentors and Mentees. Email me here if you’re interested in dialling in.