Mentoring lets you share ideas, solve problems and learn. I have been lucky to have had fantastic mentors. I have also learnt a lot from mentoring others. If you are interested in trying, this blog is for you.
3 good reasons to mentor
- Teaching or guiding someone else boosts your learning; there is no better way.
- Being asked good questions increases your self-awareness. You may be surprised by how much knowledge and experience you have to offer.
- Giving makes you feel good. Times may be hard, but they are even tougher for younger people. Supporting a talented young person can help put your situation in perspective.
3 top tips for mentors
- Be honest: Explaining how you handled difficulties can be just as important as giving your recipes for success – sometimes more so.
- Listen openly and fully: Avoid jumping to what you think are solutions while the person asks you a question; this can stop you absorbing everything the person wants to tell you.
- Relax, engage and enjoy: Don’t clock-watch in the sessions. If you really can’t make time for the person, explain and reschedule.
5 tips for getting a great mentor
- Be clear: You need someone with whom you can develop a rapport and who can offer what you need. First profile your ideal mentor. What professional experience and personal qualities will help you? Do you need a role model who resembles you in some way? Someone in your own line of work? Or someone who brings fresh ideas from a totally different context?
- Sell yourself: Summarise what is special about you. Highlight evidence of your capacity to learn and develop. Put this in a short ‘pitch’ you can email to a potential mentor. What might they learn from you? Prepare for practicalities – time, communication – and do everything to make life easier for the mentor.
- Ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say no, but that is not the
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end of the world. Most people are open to suggestions and feel flattered that someone wants them to be their mentor.
- Review the relationship regularly: Ask for honest feedback and give it. Keep the learning channels open.
- Make the most of the relationship: Make time to work out your priorities before each meeting and email your agenda to your mentor. In discussions, take notes, then re-read them and use them to work out your next steps, or further questions you may have.
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