Whether you’re looking for general career support, guidance in role progression, or help overcoming a specific challenge, mentorship is a fantastic tool. But what makes a good mentee? How can you be the type of employee that any mentor or coach would love to work with?
Here are 8 tips for how to be an amazing mentee.
What Makes a Good Mentee Video
If you’d rather see this in video form, you can watch it below!
Onto the tips!
1. Find the right mentor.
This one might sound obvious, but it’s important that you find the right mentor so that you can both get the most out of the relationship.
First, make sure they can help you with your development goals.
This may mean that the person has a similar educational background, works in a similar field or industry, has a similar skillset, or works in an area you’re looking to move into. Having these types of things in common means there will be a degree of alignment and and ability for them to understand where you’re coming from and the types of things you’ll need to think about.
On the flip side, you may want to find someone who has a very different approach or experience in a specific area. For example, if you’re trying to build confidence in the workplace and are very shy and nervous, perhaps finding a mentor with a more outgoing, confident personality can help inspire you and open you up to their tools and thinking.
Second, find someone that will support you and invest in you.
The best mentorship relationships are those where the mentor genuinely cares about your success and invests their time and energy in helping you achieve your goals.
And in my experience, many of these relationships evolve naturally. Maybe it’s a manager who goes above and beyond in helping you with your development goals. Or someone more senior who has helped you with a career transition. Or even a colleague from a past company who you’ve kept in touch with.
In any case, I recommend looking at individuals who have naturally emerged as champions of yours, and seeking them out to be a mentor.
2. Define your goals and expectations.
Once you’ve found a mentor, I recommend that you take some time to define your goals and expectations. What do you want to get out of the relationship? Are there specific areas you’d like coaching in? What are your broader career aspirations? How do you see your mentor supporting you? How frequently do you want to meet with them? And for how long?
Once you’ve gone through this exercise, review it with your mentor to get their feedback. Ensure you’re fully aligned before moving forward.
3. Own the relationship.
As the mentee, you’re the one driving the bus. You can’t expect your mentor to be the one setting up meetings and leading the conversations. Own setting up all the administration for the meetings, as well as the content.
I’d recommend setting an agenda in advance and running it by your mentor to get their feedback and ensure you’re on the same page about the objectives for the session. You may also want to include questions you have, themes you’d like to explore, situations for feedback, and any updates.
4. Keep it professional.
Recognize that your mentor is not your therapist, and there needs to be a clear line as to what is a personal issue versus what is a professional issue.
When it comes to getting coaching on things like work-life balance, you can definitely talk to your mentor. But make sure that you keep things professional and don’t overshare things that aren’t really appropriate for the work world.
5. Be open and flexible.
You’ll gain so much more out of the mentorship if you’re open to feedback, new ways of thinking, and if you’re willing to challenge yourself. Try to leave your own biases at the door, and go beyond what might be in your comfort zone.
Even if your mentor brings up an approach or suggestion that completely doesn’t seem like it’s in your wheelhouse, stay open to it. They may know you (and your capabilities!) better than you know yourself and that feedback could be a valuable gift.
Along with this, try to be more comfortable talking about your development areas. No one is perfect, and the way to get the most out of the relationship is by being open to talking about things you may need to work on, areas you may be less comfortable in, or specific gaols you have.
If you’re comfortable with a bit of vulnerability, you can gain so much more.
6. Share your progress.
Throughout the course of the mentorship, you’ll probably have many conversations about challenges, setbacks, and road blocks. And your mentor will likely give you guidance, ask you questions, and share their feedback.
This shouldn’t, however, be a one-way street. Keep the dialogue open by also sharing updates, realizations, and breakthroughs. This will create a more powerful feedback loop and keep them engaged in your progress.
7. Be gracious.
Acknowledge the fact that your mentor is taking precious time our of their day to help you. Make sure that you tell them how much you appreciate it, show an interest in them, and be genuinely engaged.
8. Pay it forward.
Consider being a mentor to someone else! (And check out Career Advice: How to be the Best Mentor Possible.) It’s one of the most rewarding things and can help you learn a lot about yourself.
Let me know in the comments below: what is your advice for making the most of your mentorship?
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