We’ve been told countless times, how important it is to have a mentor. What seems to get lost in the shuffle is everything that is involved in the mentoring relationship. Working with a mentor is more than just having someone throw your name around or connect you with important people. Mentoring is a relationship, and just as with any other relationship in your life, you must take the time and steps to cultivate that relationship.
The burden of responsibility in the mentoring relationship falls the protege. This month, we are talking about how you take the lead in your mentoring relationship. Let’s start with seven practical steps to help you take the lead in cultivating a meaningful mentoring partnership between you and your mentor.
1. Be ready to work! Great relationships take time and effort. Take the time to get to know your mentor and let him/her get to know you. You also need to be ready to actually do some work. Your mentor is going to push you outside of your comfort zone. Be ready to accept the challenge and move forward with your goals.
2. Be Proactive! Take the initiative and ask your mentor questions. Share your goals. Do not rely on your mentor to do everything and let your mentor know what you need.
3. Be You! When you are honest and real, your mentor will be better able to help you personally and professionally. Share your hopes, dreams, and vision for your future.
4. Communication! Be clear and communicate your desired outcomes for the mentoring relationship upfront. If you feel there is a misunderstanding, take some time to organize your thoughts and then communicate those concerns to your mentor.
5. Expect support-not miracles! Your mentor is there to support your goals not solve your problems. Your mentor is there to provide you a different perspective, new ideas and can be a good sounding board regarding your situation.
6. Show up! Ensure you keep up your end of the bargain and follow through with any items you and your mentor have agreed upon. Be prepared for your meetings. Take time and create an agenda for your time together. Share the agenda with your mentor prior to your meeting.
7. Enjoy! Focus on the relationship rather than the outcomes. Take the time to get to know your mentor. Focus on cultivating a relationship with your mentor rather than focusing on what your mentor can do for you.
(Written by Donalisa Stinyard)