Being mentored well is one of life’s great experiences. We all find ourselves needing the wise guidance of someone else to help us make important transitions at various life stages. Having a formal or informal mentor can make a huge difference when being an intern, in our first job, moving into a new role, changing careers and direction or a start-up business.
Sometimes we learn best from someone who has been there, done it and got the t-shirt. A tennis player may need someone else beyond the narrow area of improving technique or physical conditioning – someone with a wider, longer-term perspective for advice on match strategy, the game plan or long-term career. They are likely to have been an experienced tennis player in the past, someone who knows the pitfalls and has credibility in your eyes. Look what Ivan Lendl did for Andy Murray!
When you don’t know what you don’t know, they give you the benefit of their experiences to open your eyes to new possibilities or ways forward. They can say what has worked or not worked for them because they have been in that situation, job or role. Like coaching, it’s still your decision what choices you make. Business tends to call that mentoring.
As a mentee, how do you ensure you get the best out of that relationship? What can help you to be a brilliant mentee?
Being a good mentee means…
- Maintaining a positive view of yourself
- Having faith and trust in the mentor
- Being willing to discuss issues openly
- Sharing with your mentor how you feel the relationship is working
- Accepting challenge willingly
- Recognising the constructive intent of feedback
- Being active in your own development, not dependent on the mentor
- Taking a few risks in order to make progress
- Thinking about other ways to develop outside of mentoring
- Not expecting too much of the mentor and respecting their other demands
- Talking about the end of the relationship when the time comes
A good mentoring process can help you by…
- Providing helpful information, clarity, and reassurance
- Gaining an overview of your role
- Providing an understanding of the organisation
- Encouraging you to reflect on your practice
- Developing understanding and skills
- Recognise achievement and learning
- Supporting your choice of options and decision-making
- Providing a sense of being supported
- Providing a reality check
- Providing a role model
- Helping you grow personally and professionally
What has helped you be a brilliant mentee? What benefits have you gained from being mentored?