The mentor-mentee relationship is one of the most crucial ones you will develop during your career, helping accelerate professional growth and meet goals. However, it's up to both the mentor and the mentee to make the most out of it... and usually, they don't.
What we get really wrong...
One of the biggest mistakes one can make in the mentor-mentee relationship is making it one-sided! While this relationship is largely about the mentee, the mentor has just as much to gain and this can become a mutually beneficial relationship.
"What can I learn from my mentee?" Most mentees are just coming straight from school, meaning they can keep the mentor up-to-date with the latest information, best practices, and new techniques in a specific industry. Not to mention they might have skills that you would like to learn more about! For example, my mentor is learning how to get more of a presence on social media for her business with my help. Because I am the "expert" on that topic in our relationship, she defers to asking me for advice and tips on that.
"How do I find out what I can learn from my mentee?" Think about the unique skills your mentee has and whether they line up with your short- or long-term goals. During one of your meetings, as them if they would be willing to teach you about those skills or guide you to resources to help you get started. It will not only give them a confidence boost, but you learn something, too!
We get a lot of other stuff wrong too in this relationship. mentors, don't do this:
Not Setting Goals For the Mentoring Relationship
Before both parties agree to this relationship, the mentor should sit down with the mentee to define clear goals on what the expectations are; establish a six to 12-month plan outlining meeting frequency and outcomes, communication preferences, and specific goals to work towards together. Other guidelines might be discussed and set as well, such as:
Not Honoring mentee individuality
The biggest mistake that a mentor can make is that their role is to guide their mentee down the same path they went. That's not it at all! The mentor's role is to share how they may have approached new or similar situations, guiding the mentee through lessons learned and maybe having them see things from a different point-of-view. However, it is important to remember that a mentee can challenge you to see things in a new way as well, so be open to learning through their unique filter and don't try to smother their individuality and experiences.
Not Allowing Failure
The role of the mentor is not to keep their mentee from failure or losses, but to help them navigate through these rough waters and come out the "other side" having learned something. While it is tempting to "right the ship" when things go south, as a mentor you can't a) shield them from failure for forever and b) care more about a mentee's work than they do. Help mentees avoid bad situations when you, but otherwise just be there with tissues, some chocolate, and a shoulder to lean on when they need it. Remember: sometimes they need just comfort, not solutions!
Not Helping Mentees Develop Their Own Vision
Mentors, you have lived your life! Now it's time to help your mentee to live their own life, not follow down the path you wish you had. You will do a disservice to a mentee when you fail to help them develop their own life vision that falls in line with their passions, strengths, and core values.
Have you tried establishing a mentor-mentee relationship
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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