In a recent community discussion, someone asked what advice would you give to first time mentors and mentees to be successful.
- Work out a cadence that is acceptable for both. Refrain from assuming mentors are available often or on a whim.
- Revisit the relationship periodically. Is it working? Has the goal been achieved? Is it time for the mentee to find another mentor?
- Be genuinely interested in each other. Get to know each other first. Look forward to meeting with each other. If you’re not, it’s not the right fit.
- Listen, listen, listen. You’re there because of your unique experience, but you must understand the mentee’s experience and environment before offering your thoughts.
- Be empathetic. How you process and react is different than others.
- Your framework is awesome. For you. Share stories about problems and the way you solved them. Let the mentee formulate if they want to use your framework or core principles to their own situation.
- Mentorship is a two-way street. Be open to learning from mentees, and share your own struggles. It helps improve the relationship with the mentee and allows the mentee to demonstrate their own skills and growth.
- Use your network. There may be others that can help the mentee on a specific topic. Help them make that connection.
- Give the difficult feedback. Your role is to help the mentee grow, which requires being candid and holding them accountable.
- Raise them up; don’t push them down. Find ways to build their confidence, remind them of their achievements. It’s easy to fall into an imposter syndrome trap or feel like you’re not good enough. Small gestures/words of encouragement can be powerful.
- Focus. A mentee may come in with four, five, or six different problems. There may be a through line to attack, but more likely, you need to prioritize to make progress.
- Define the goals you want to work with a mentor on. Leaving it open-ended will lead to good conversations but little progress.
- As hard as it is, come prepared with your thoughts and feedback you’ve received. Putting this out in the open allows you and the mentor to explore how to grow.
- Find mentors with experience with similar problems, preferably outside your own team, maybe in the industry. Don’t pick mentors based on titles or admiration (alone).
- Journal. Write down your sessions and reflect a day later, a week later, or a month later. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn about yourself.
- Not all mentors are ones you talk to. Read books, find articles online, about others in the same scenario. Seek information about the process at that moment and worry less about the achievement itself.
- Find the answers through action. Your mentor will share stories and lessons. Find ways to apply them quickly to determine what works and what doesn’t.
- Accept the feedback. You may want to dismiss it but don’t. Hear it. Ask questions to clarify it. Let it stew. If you don’t agree after that, come back to discuss.
- Commit. The mentor is typically there out of kindness. You need to take the relationship seriously and try to make progress to save your own time and the mentor’s.
- Expect progress, not a leapfrog. Your mentor can help you progress towards your goal, not leapfrog to it in one session. Be okay with the steps and putting in the work.