The point of this blog, is to ask you to reflect if you are doing enough – or can you do more? For many years, early in my career, I would watch role models and people mentoring and think one day I will do that. Why one day though? There is honestly always someone looking up to you.
I came across many positive role modes in my career and life, if I then had the benefit of getting to know them and found that we connected, I would ask if they would consider being a mentor to me. No one, not one, ever said no. People asked me to mentor them, I also never said no. Sometimes my role as a mentor would evolve organically over many discussions where I offered to help. Often, I would then gain sponsors in my mentors, someone who had my back, helped me to find opportunities and opened their network to me through these relationships.
So here are my top tips in becoming a mentor and being a mentee, gathered through many years of delivering global mentoring programmes, being a mentor and ensuring any members of my team have a mentor:
First you have to be a role model, but you do that anyway right? With a good attitude, performing highly and knowing your skillset.
Offer to help others, even if not directly in your line. Be clear with constructive feedback and enquire as to whether they would welcome your guidance.
Don’t eliminate yourself as a mentor because ‘you aren’t senior enough’, or ‘you don’t have anything to offer’. I recommend in a successful mentor: mentee pairing the mentor should be about 2 promotions away from the mentor.
Make yourself available – mentees can be nervous to ask or simply don’t know how to.
Ensure you get clarity on what the mentee needs from this relationship.
- You must own this relationship, agree how often and how you will engage (for example, monthly on the phone)
- Be clear on the support / skills that you need mentoring on. For example, navigating corporate politics, stakeholder engagement etc etc.
- Be respectful of the time that person is volunteering. Set an agenda 2 days prior of topics for discussion.
- Set a mentoring agreement in the first call, all discussions are in confidence, this should be your trusted place. Agree how long this relationship will last (often 12 months).
I hope that I have convinced you to take action and seek out your next mentor: mentee relationship. You never know where it might take you.
Here’s a massive thank you to those mentors in my life, some I have even met recently through online forums – one in the USA (I’m in the UK), we’ve talked and she has helped me navigate career choices. You never know where your next mentor/mentee will come from.
Let me know if you have feedback and if you like the blogs come and join my group The Career Mum