My mentor and I have enjoyed a long relationship – almost 20 years. It’s a rewarding relationship that is mutually beneficial. In our own way we share experience that adds up to solid business. I never leave a meeting without gaining some knowledge or thinking about how to do things differently.
If you chose to offer your experience and time up as a mentor, make sure you go into it with your eyes wide open. What you share can have a direct impact on the decisions made by someone other than you, life changing decisions, hopefully for the better.
And, most importantly it’s not all about you.
Sure you may have more experience and can share some interesting stories and memories, but really listen for an opportunity to help. Your mentee is looking for support and guidance. They should not be looking for you to solve a problem, or condone a great idea; rather they are looking for feedback, and helpful lessons you have learned that can help them reach a decision, or a direction.
Your time is important, and so is your mentee’s. Schedule your meetings in advance so that both of you have time to prepare. If at all possible, set an agenda, for example this week we can talk about profession development inside the office, or job shadowing possibilities. Next time we meet let’s talk about extra-curricular learning, supplementary courses, useful webinars and the like. At a future date you can discuss career steps, how to be ready for them, and what your mentee could be missing in their experience that could be holding them from advancement.
Stick to it
Both of you. Unless it is completely impossible, commit to dates that work and keep them. If you need to, reschedule in advance, not the day of – unless it’s an emergency. Everyone has a lot to fit into their days, be respectful of each other’s time.
If you are there to discuss business, be ready to talk about it, not what you read this morning on your iPad. Not to say that you can’t exchange pleasantries, by all means do, but time is a precious commodity, and you want to make the best use of it. Your meetings don’t always have to be about solving the next big hurdle, they shouldn’t be. If your mentee is bringing you problems all the time, you’ll start to feel like you are more of a therapist than a business mentor. Keep your conversations on track and on topic.
Every meeting should have an outcome for your mentee; it could be a book to read, an article to research, and a contact to be made. You are sharing your wisdom, your history and your experience, share how you got it as well.