Whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, making the experience as impactful as possible will benefit you immensely. Mentorships are opportunities for both parties to invite fresh perspectives into their work and lives. However, with fresh blood comes a great deal of responsibility. Building a good working relationship and trust involves clear communication and initiative. We’ve put together a simple how-to for you to make the most of the mentorship experience.
If you’re the mentor:
As a mentor, you have a responsibility towards your mentee, who surely would like to learn as much as possible from you. Make time to be fully present – give them undivided attention when they have questions, and introduce them formally to your team. It’s the little things that build confidence and will allow your mentee to shine in their role. Treat them as you would a valued member of the team, and give them the space they need to come into their own.
Communicate clear expectations
Clarity in communication helps ward away undue misunderstanding and errors of judgement. From the get-go, be clear to your mentee as to what they will be doing, how their work will be evaluated, what they can expect to learn, and an overview of the team’s culture. This helps both parties have a good sense of what milestones to anticipate, as well as to be aware of any guard-rails along the way that will help keep the work and the relationships at their best. Be generous with providing resources and information that will help them exceed your expectations, too!
Put yourself in their shoes
That is to say, be compassionate and empathise. Putting yourself in a mentee’s shoes allows you to better imagine what they might benefit from learning, where they could grow, what connections would be valuable. Similarly, you’ll be reminded to celebrate their achievements and help groom them towards the path they have chosen.
If you’re the mentee:
How many times have we been told that there’s no such thing as a stupid question? This applies especially to a mentorship situation. Make the most of the experience by thinking of your mentor as a trusted resource. Look to them when you stumble, have doubts or are struck with an idea. Don’t let the fear of coming across as silly or bothersome stop you from learning from them. However, do be mindful of whatever else they might have on their plate and be respectful about how you approach them.
All too often, people use mentorships as stepping stones to getting hired. While there’s no harm in this line of thinking, it can end sourly if the people you’ve worked with feel that you’re being disingenuous. Remember why you sought out the mentorship in the first place, and stay true to that through the course of your experience. Communicate clearly, be authentic and transparent whenever possible. That way, you’ll be noticed not only for your work, but also for your solid character.
Give thanks and follow up
Once a mentorship has wrapped up, remember to give thanks for everything you’ve learned. Make sure to follow up with your mentor to express your gratitude in an authentic way. This will help keep the connection alive and strong. In the future, you might need them as a resource or they might be able to help connect you to somebody who matters to your career. Your mentor will appreciate having been remembered. This will go a long way.