In today’s blog, guest writer Sarah Landrum offers insight on how to make the most of a mentor relationship to make sure it’s mutually beneficial. Enjoy!
As a culture, we continuously rely more heavily on the power of networking and finding mentors. Some of the world’s most successful people attribute at least part of their success to having effective mentors. At some point in your professional career, you were probably fortunate enough to have someone in your field reach out to you and offer their guidance; or maybe you initiated the relationship and your mentor kindly donated his or her time. Considering recent college graduates are still having difficulty finding jobs, mentoring is a great way to pay forward all the great advice you’ve learned so far in your career. Here are five tips to become a more effective mentor:
1. Give positive and negative feedback.
People often look to mentors for reassurance that they’re making the right decision at work. Of course, it’s always nice to hear that you’re doing a good job, but mentees also need constructive criticism. If you see your mentee making similar mistakes that you did or you’ve seen someone else make, share the experience with your mentee and explain how the situation can be handled better.
2.Dedicate time to your charge.
As in any relationship, you should make an effort to meet with your mentee. If she’s reaching out to you to grab coffee or lunch, schedule a time that works for both of you. However, don’t feel obligated to maintain the mentorship if you’re the one doing all the work. Spend your time helping someone who wants to pick your brain, not just someone who only wants to use your connections. If you don’t have room in your calendar to dedicate to your mentee once or twice a month at the least, you might want to consider helping your mentee find a new mentor who has more time to meet.
3. Pay attention.
Ideally your mentee will be eager to listen to any advice you have and will actively pay attention. You should provide the same courtesy. Even if you’re out at happy hour and your meeting seems more social, don’t forget that your mentee is still seeking your advice and wants to know more than just what wine you drink.
4. Help your mentee set goals.
Young professionals often need their mentor’s help in setting reasonable goals and expectations for their career. After years of having syllabi and course requirements spell out what needs to be done and in what timeframe, new hires can feel lost when trying to develop their own plan to move forward in their career. Be a team captain and help your mentee think of a six-month plan that will help her grow professionally.
5. Maintain relationships with your own mentors.
As is the case with pretty much everything, the most effective way to be the best at what you do is to practice. Meeting with your own mentors will help you see what information you find most effective and help you guide your mentee. You might even learn something that you can pass directly on to your mentee.