All relationships require trust, communication and commitment. It’s no different for a mentoring relationship.
Here are three top tips for anyone starting their mentoring journey:
If you want to get the best support you need to be open and honest with your mentor.
Before you even begin, a true professional should go through a list of what you can expect throughout your mentoring sessions.
By entering in to a mentoring agreement your mentor should acknowledge the importance of confidentiality assigned to your mentoring relationship. Unless you have agreed, your mentor should not discuss details of your mentoring conversations with anyone.
Allow your mentor to lead the conversation and take on board their suggestions and advice. It doesn’t mean you have to follow it of course. Yet at the very least take their feedback and guidance seriously, trust their judgement and years of knowledge and experience.
Trust that your mentor has potentially pushed you in to a place of feeling uncomfortable for a reason. They are aware that being too comfortable doesn’t lead to development and growth. They can also see what opportunities are out there and suitable for you.
If you want to move forward in your career you will need to step outside of your comfort zone. This could mean you trying new skills, reaching out to new contacts, improving your presentation skills, your voice and positioning or even simply believing in yourself. Your mentor will be able to advice you on what they feel is right for you. Trust your mentor’s supporting words.
Your first mentoring session will determine whether you have the right mentoring chemistry with your mentor in order to optimise the mentoring you receive.
There may well be times when your mentor hits a chord, pushes you on areas that you might find difficult, or encourages you to take on work challenges. You will work harmoniously and develop a good, solid mentoring relationship so you can call upon your mentor as and when needed according to your mentor’s agreement.
Sometimes you’ll want to just check on something quickly and not want to wait for your mentoring session. That’s fine with me although some mentors may not be so accommodating. This is something you must check when you start your mentoring sessions.
Although body language can determine your real feelings, it’s always best to provide your feedback to your mentor. If you find something too challenging, let your mentor know. Likewise if you are not challenged enough.
Set realistic expectations with your mentor. Be open about your needs.
Be as open as possible; provide as much information as possible and don’t be afraid to let your mentor know about any changes or new challenges you are experiencing at work or even in your personal life. I’m fully aware that a career is not a stand alone aspect of your life and it needs to fit around your interests including your family. I will mentor you from a holistic perspective and others may do too.
Be ready for your sessions. Treat them as though they are your client. Your mentor is giving their time yet that doesn’t mean they have a free day. They are investing their time in you because they want the best from you.
Take your mentoring sessions seriously and come prepared with a pad and pen. Going old school and writing your goals on to paper will provide a proven connection and help make your actions real.
Make sure to follow up on any actions you need to take. And if you can’t, make sure to communicate what stopped you from doing so. You won’t get in trouble but it will help your mentor understand where you are at and help them help you going forward.
Allocate the time in your diary and do your best to find a place where you will not be interrupted, where you can focus and talk freely.
Mentoring is a great relationship and if you find the right mentor you can have someone on hand, as and when needed, throughout your career. Some say it’s a little like having a good hairdresser. However this sums it up for me, some feedback I received recently:
“The mentoring has helped me put in perspective my real desires for my future, and it has helped me identify a goal for myself, which I am currently working towards, slowly, but surely.”
“I always feel encouraged and positive after each session. I feel empowered to take the necessary steps to improve my career and well being. I feel more in control and like I have regained back the power to make a difference, not just go with the flow.”
Remember, mentoring is not the same as coaching and nor is it the same as counselling. The mentor takes the lead and guides you.
I offer mentoring sessions and if you would like to sign up please get in touch.