The mentor relationship can be highly beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee. Mentoring is a two-way street and the relationship must work for both of you. How can both of you make the most of this relationship?
As the Mentee:
To make the most of your mentoring relationship, carefully consider a few things.
Firstly, consider what it is you want from the relationship. Knowing what you want from the relationship will help you see the value in it and will also provide clarity about the roles and expectations. Know your strengths and weaknesses so that you know exactly what areas you want to grow and develop. This will also help you narrow down what advice you’re looking for.
Don’t waste the opportunity to learn as much as possible. Write down questions to ask your mentor. You could also consider writing down the things you are learning. That way, once the mentorship has ceased you can look over your “learning journal” and see all the things you’ve learned. You probably will discover that you’ve gained a lot more skills and knowledge than you thought you had.
There are many ways that you can make the relationship benefit your mentor. Offer to help with any extra curricular activities your mentor might be involved in. Offer to lighten their workload in some way, and don’t be afraid to provide your mentor with feedback. Being in a much more junior position, your perspective on certain matters is likely to be very different than that of your mentor. Your mentor might appreciate getting feedback from fresh eyes.
Make sure your mentor knows that you appreciate the effort they are putting in. Remember, your mentor may not be getting paid. Let them know that you are benefiting from the experience and that they are not wasting their time. Taking your mentor out for lunch as a gesture of your thanks is a great idea.
As the Mentor:
You have as much to gain from a mentoring relationship as your mentee. Being a mentor can help you build self-awareness and also hone your leadership skills. Mentoring might even work as a refresher course. You might find yourself remembering valuable information or values you might have forgotten or not thought about for a while.
You’ll also be able to learn things yourself through your mentee. A younger professional is likely to know more about a topic you’re less familiar with, such as social media or technology for example. You never know where mentoring might lead – you might make new professional connections through your mentee.
Being a mentor is also highly rewarding on a personal level. The feeling of helping someone is a good feeling.
To make sure that your mentee is getting the most out of this relationship, put yourself in their shoes. Think back to when you were starting out and consider what advice you would have liked or needed when commencing your career. If you could go back in time with all the knowledge you have now, what would you tell your younger self? Your mentee will appreciate the effort you have put in and they will greatly benefit from your advice and guidance.