How does my failure as a mentee and mentor help you?
Your mentee will be going out as an Alumni of this program with a great mentoring experience. Thanks to YOU! But in the future, they may be discouraged by a bad mentoring experience. This is something that I have learnt the hard way.
Bad mentoring partnerships happen, and I wanted to share these experiences with you.
Why? Because failing is difficult but as an emerging leader, your Acorn Mentee must learn that difficult mentoring partnership happen and they shouldn’t be discouraged by them.
Let's take a deep breath and dive into some experiences that have given me some tough learnings.
- He was a great person. Someone with a board position of a highly influential and national healthcare brand. He saw my passion and wanted to support me.
I loved meeting with him, and really knew he supported my vision for my career. BUT I failed to bring actionable goals. I wanted him to tell me what to do and how to get there. Instead, he left me to set the agenda.
I ended up getting so stressed as I knew he could help me, but I just didn’t know how! He would give me tasks to complete and I would do them, but I just knew I wasn’t ready for him as a mentor, and I didn’t have the skills to ask for the right support.
I ended this mentoring partnership. I was stressing myself out with the knowledge that it was a great opportunity, while also realising I didn’t have the self-direction I needed to really help my mentor help me. I still see him at networking events, and we have a great relationship. When I am ready I know he is there to support me on my journey.
LEARNING: Have a specific goal in mind when initially building a mentoring relationship or you will feel like you are wasting their time.
- I had someone approach me and offered to be my mentor. He came to me with a specific project and agenda he wanted me to be involved with. I said yes. Mr B ended up dictating everything, the agenda, what the thought I should know, and how I should do it. He never asked for my opinion, and I was too intimidated to share it. I felt like he was the project manager and I was a member of his staff.
I didn’t have the confidence to push back and slow the project down or the skills to realise this wasn’t the type of mentoring partnership that I wanted.
I was told I was in charge. Instead, I was free labour to get a project off the ground. I didn’t handle the pressure well.
The end of this relationship did go well. It was a great learning curve for me.
LEARNING: Know what mentoring styles work for you and listen to your intuition. If the relationship doesn’t feel right then know it’s ok to back away. (Also don’t work for free).
- I was a mentor to a new grad. She was an amazing individual. We had connected online and she wanted advice on how to build confidence in her workplace and management skills. An amazing individual, but our conversations didn’t have a core goal for us to work towards. They ended up being more of a counselling session about her personal life and I would provide resources for her to reach out to.
I would also initiate these conversations as she would drop off the radar from time to time. In the end, communication ended and I never heard from her again.
LEARNING: Only start mentoring partnerships if there is a very clear goal in mind otherwise I feel like a counsellor and not using my key skills/experiences to help a mentee excel.
Now I’m sure you have been in one or more of these experiences yourself either as a mentor or mentee.
These experiences have helped me grow and allowed me to understand the type of mentor who fits my expectations and my personality. I firmly believe that by talking about this will help your Mentee see that failure can be a positive experience. Maybe it’s a conversation you would like to have? Especially if you are encouraging your mentee to seek more mentors through their network.