One of the most valuable assets in your professional life is having an inspiring mentor. Mentoring is still seen as a powerful way of gaining valuable skills and getting ahead in your career. It has been proven by studies and surveys that effective mentoring benefits both the mentor and mentee in equal measure. While mentors can improve their leadership skills and get a fresher perspective on the industry, mentees can identify skill gaps, boost their confidence and get access to the mentor’s prized professional network.
Now that you’re aware of the benefits of mentoring, here’s how you can make the most out of your mentoring relationship:
Communicate your expectations
The first step you should take as a mentee is to have a clear idea why you are entering this mentoring relationship. Research about your mentor and understand what you can ask them help for or what you could possibly learn from them. Remember, mentoring is not an easy way to get answers to all your questions or simply acquire contacts that’ll help you move ahead in your career.
You need to put in enough effort into the relationship to gain out of it. So list down the goals you aim to achieve by the end of the mentoring experience and share it with your mentor. This way, you mentor will also have a clear idea about how they can help you. Be open with your mentor, but understand that they are also busy professionals, so restrain from burdening them with all your personal anxieties.
Don’t be egoistic
Look at mentoring as a learning process, not a therapy session or an idea incubator. It is, of course, okay and only normal if you have ideas you want to bounce off with you mentor. But keep your ego aside and be ready to accept their honest feedback on you, your ideas and your methods.
Enter into a mentoring relationship knowing that you may have to face some negative or constructive feedback about your skills and way of working. So be open to accepting your mistakes when pointed out and try to learn as much as possible without being defensive.
Be transparent with feedback
We cannot stress enough that mentoring is a two-way relationship. It is not just about you or your mentor. It is about how you can learn from each other. So communicate your feedback about your mentor. Trust us, this will not only help your mentor but also you.
You don’t need to take all the advice your mentor gives you, but be open to them and always communicate your point of view on things. For instance, your mentor keeps talking and doesn’t listen enough. Take this up as constructively as possible with your mentor before the relationship goes too far. Remember, mentors may be more experienced than you, but they also want to receive feedback to improve. So give them timely and honest feedback so that both of you can get the most out of your time and effort.
Offer to give back
You, too, can teach your mentor a skill or two. Your mentor may be older or more experienced than you are, but they are not omniscient. There sure will be things that you’re better at than your mentor. Suppose you use a specific new tool that your mentor hasn’t used yet, you could help them figure out how to navigate it and use it for their benefit. Know your strengths, play them up and help your mentor brush up their skills, too.
Mentoring is a great professional relationship that can lead to both personal satisfaction and professional success for both mentors and mentees. What you get out of it depends solely on your attitude and willingness to learn. Remember that mentors can only guide you with their experience and skills. You need to be open to feedback and be ready to go the extra mile to get the most out of any mentoring relationship.