Mentors are like magical unicorns, you want them to exist but your really not sure where to start looking for one. It could come from a chance encounter at a conference, a random twitter conversation, or a friendship with an executive in your office.
You meet them, you think their rad, you want them to mentor you … and then you’re too scared/busy/intimidated to reach out. We’ve all been there.
I had a CEO of an amazing organisation (1,500+ employees) want to mentor me. We met for coffee a few times and she was fantastic BUT I just didn’t know what I wanted from the relationship and let it fall away.
I’m annoyed I let it happen ... but it’s a great learning experience.
It’s a common habit we get into. We think that the person in these important positions are going to have all the answers and help us navigate to our desired destination. In reality they don’t know what port we set sail from, what fishing we have don’t along the way, any storms we have survived, and how we got to them.
What am I trying to say?
As a mentee, it’s up to us to drive these relationships so we can help our mentors get the best out of us, and ensure we get the best out of them. To do that we must understand what knowledge and expertise we want from them. As a mentee your responsible for ...
1. Driving the relationships
- setting the meetings time, the agenda, and following up on suggestions/homework
- bringing up new topics or directions
2. Developing the next steps
- determine the goals, development activities, and time frames of which you want to achieve these things
- you give feedback and show how you are implementing their advice (or why their advice didn’t work)
3. Giving back
- look for ways to give back to your mentor
- give thank you emails, pay for coffee, retweet and share their social media posts
- show that you appreciate their time and effort. come prepared, share interesting articles and sing their praises to others
In contrast your mentor is …
1. The advisor
- giving advice and coaching you (the mentee)
- a source of encouragement and support
- sings your achievements to others
- is a sounding board for your concerns, queries, and failings
2. A resource
- shares resources and networks where appropriate
- helps you develop through learning so you can reach your goals quicker
- serves as an advocate
It is vital you become intentional about your mentor relationships. They are a great resource to help you take the next step in your care career. Finding a mentor isn't difficult, it just takes a bit of work but the friendship and advice you receive are well worth it.