After signing up for The Mentor Method (or maybe a company-wide mentoring service), you’ve received your mentor’s details and contact information. That was the easy part. How do you go about making the mentor-mentee system produce long-lasting, productive results for you?
Take the Initiative
Your mentor is eager to work with you, but don’t forget that as the mentee, you’re the one seeking to benefit from that person’s time and experience. So show your commitment to the process by initiating contact; it will show the mentor that you’re serious about this important new relationship.
Establish Goals and the Agenda Beforehand
Before your first meeting with your mentor, sit down and think about what you want to get out of the meeting and the relationship. What goals do you have? What topics do you want to cover? What specifically do you want to ask of your mentor or learn from this person? Don’t rush straight into everything or make your biggest ask at the close of the conversation, though; that can create the impression that you’re just making a pitch or seeking a one-way relationship that only benefits you. So be prepared, but be smart about it. Another way to make a positive impression beforehand is to email or otherwise communicate these goals/topics/etc. to the mentor in advance.
Get to Know Your Mentor as a Person
Remember that your mentor, like you, is a unique human being with his or her own life experiences, goals, and passions. Take time getting to know each other as people. This doesn’t mean you have to spill your deepest secrets or know all of your mentor’s during the first meeting (or ever), but establishing a personal connection builds trust and familiarity. People like being recognized and appreciated as individuals with lives beyond the workplace.
Don’t Make it All About You
Just as it’s important to get to know one another, it’s also important to show that the mentor-mentee relationship is about more than just what you want to get out of it. Mentors at work have a lot to offer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit, too. Don’t hesitate to ask if there’s anything you can do to be helpful to your mentor. If your mentor takes you up on the offer, following through and delivering outstanding results will only strengthen your relationship.
Yes, you want to get to know each other, but you still always want to keep professional boundaries. We’re not even talking about what you might be thinking here; we just mean avoiding too much familiarity. The line between friends and colleagues can be a blurry one, but it’s important to establish and respect it. Your mentor doesn’t need to know about the time you utterly embarrassed yourself at a party in college or what movies have made you cry. Don’t discuss your political or religious views just because you have a good working relationship. Be personable, but don’t be too personal.
Whether it’s The Mentor Method or any mentor-mentee system you’re using, this list can help you get the most out of your mentoring relationship. It’s also completely adaptable to hybrid work systems and remote work, both of which are increasingly prevalent and will only continue becoming more so.
Mentorship is a time-honored practice with roots deep in human history. It’s a way of passing knowledge on, preparing a new generation of leaders, and feeling a sense of importance and belonging. We hope you’ll make the most of it to help you develop your potential and meet and exceed your goals.