Mentoring is a supportive and usually semi-structured relationship in which an experienced individual guides a less experienced individual with their career and business goals. A mentor is not the same thing as a sponsor or a business coach, it is usually relatively informal in its approach as both parties involved establish a way of communicating that suits them and very often it is a voluntary agreement (although you can find paid mentoring schemes). It is a way to encourage and inspire individuals (mentees) to maximise their potential and achieve the success that they desire in their chosen field. There is a level of influence and knowledge transferring involved but only on a very subtle level, it is not the role of a mentor to tell their mentees what they should do in order to succeed but they should guide them in the right direction and nudge them when they’re going off track.
Some of the key lessons that I have learnt through being both a mentor and a mentee are:
- Take the relationship seriously if you want to see results.
- Commit to the mentoring process and don’t waste each others time.
- If things are not working be transparent and communicate to work on improving the relationship.
- Listen – both as a mentor and a mentee, listen and pay attention and be open to new ideas.
- Make sure that the relationship is not about ego-boosting but about mutual respect.
- Use mentoring as an opportunity to share your experiences honestly and openly.
- Remember that a mentor is not a coach or a therapist; if you need either of those make sure you get one.
- Respect each others boundaries – you might eventually become friends but do not go into a mentoring relationship expecting a friendship to develop.
- Use resources wisely and be time effective – with the evolution of technology you do not have to meet physically for every mentoring session be open to using technology and telephone communication to keep in touch.
- Set a time frame – whilst you can keep in touch after your mentoring relationship is complete it really does make sense to set a time frame so that the mentee does not become co-dependent on their mentor.
In this video I provide some guidance on what to look for in a mentoring relationship and how it can help you to achieve success in both your business and professional life.
If you want advice on how to find a mentor read this post.