Having a mentor can be hugely influential in your career success. Mentorship helps you grow and develop, improve your skill set and gain an invaluable insight into the workings of a specific company or industry. But what does it take to be a good mentee? You might be ready to reap the rewards of having a strong mentor but how do you show your value in the partnership too?
Set realistic goals
It’s important to have realistic expectations around what can be achieved through the relationship with your mentor. They are there to provide support and guidance but you need to understand the limitations. A mentor won’t be able to resolve every issue for you and you shouldn’t be asking them to. You need to take responsibility for your own progress and learning. Agree upon the frequency of your meetings and the areas you’ll work on together.
Try to focus on building the relationship before you focus on the outcomes.
For the immediate future, you stand to gain more from your mentor then they do from you, so appreciate their investment and respect their time. Take the commitment seriously. Come to each meeting with a prepared agenda, ask for feedback on specific points and after your session follow up with an email outlining agreed tasks or intentions. Also, be sure to make every deadline, even if your mentor doesn’t.
Your mentor is your sounding board. The most valuable thing they can offer you is a new or more experienced outlook on issues. You need to listen to their point of view, be open to any advice they offer you – and any criticism! What your mentor wants to see most from you is a willingness to learn and take risks.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to speak frankly to them about what you feel will work best for you. The goal isn’t to become a carbon copy of your mentor, it’s to be enriched by their experience and knowledge. The most successful mentorships are the ones where feedback is reciprocal so if you’re uncomfortable with certain direction, discuss it openly.
As you evolve in your role or company, your needs as a mentee evolve too. Don’t be shy in communicating that to your mentor and evaluating your progress together. Take the initiative when it comes to setting new goals or even reaching out to more potential mentors. This is a natural progression and shouldn’t be viewed as insulting or ungrateful, your mentor will understand your continued need for diverse perspectives.