Humans are social beings who rely on making connections that can help them advance in life. This is why mentorship is so crucial in any field. Mentorship can help in so many ways. It can help us get unstuck, it can open new doors, and help find avenues you never knew existed.
Mentorship can benefit both professional and personal life. At the professional level, you find career satisfaction, become aligned with your identity, and commitment to work. In personal life, it can be better health, higher self-esteem, and more satisfying relationship.
Even though most of us seek mentorship, only a few get actual value out of it. There are a lot of factors that can affect the mentor-mentee transaction, let’s look at some key factors that can help you make the most of it.
Preparing as a mentee
Purpose: Before your first interaction with a mentor or even before you start looking for a mentor, it’s good to have your objectives ready. Ask yourself questions like –
What is the purpose of this engagement?
What am I looking to get from a mentor?
Try to be precise and crisp with your objectives. That way it’s easy to measure the progress.
Goals: Set specific goals for yourself before getting into mentorship.
What do you want to achieve at the end of the engagement?
Success: Have a framework to measure success. It could be a simple to-do list that you can tick after each meeting.
But remember, measure things that are under your control. For example: don’t write down – I want to get promoted in 6 months. Instead list things you can do, like – assign and review work for a new team member, present to clients on a topic, get certified on a tool/software, set up regular meetings with my supervisor to discuss my progress. These are tasks you can check off on your end, and as a result, can lead to your promotion.
Preparing as a mentor
According to research, people who are compassionate and empathetic towards others perform well as mentors in general. They have a higher level of EQ which is key in coaching and training others, ie mentees.
Let’s first understand when mentorship doesn’t work well. Even though 70% of the Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, not even half of the employees receive the mentoring they need. This is because professional success is considered a measure of being a good mentor.
Key skills like good listening, providing constructive feedback, visibility, advocacy are not taken into account while assigning mentors. So most mentors are either stretched too thin or don’t have the mindset to coach someone. This leads to a cycle where there is mentorship available but not necessarily useful.
How to gauge EI(emotional intelligence)
Mindset: Before committing to a mentee, think about how you’re feeling. Is your mind preoccupied with something?
Are you feeling anxious or nervous?
What is the source of your anxiousness?
Sit with yourself and reflect on these questions.
Active Listening: When in the meeting with the mentee, start by making the mentee comfortable. Understand how they are feeling. How can you make them comfortable? Do they need more time to open up to you?
Reflection: It would be helpful to make notes throughout the meeting. It can be on topics discussed. What were the mentee’s expressions while discussing certain topics? Where there any strong words used to express positive and negative triggers?
This is a good starting point to be an efficient and effective mentoring relationship.
Remember that mentorship is a two-way transaction, both the people in the relationship have something to learn. Treat it as a knowledge exchange and you never know, it could lead to a long term relationship.