Mentoring lets you share ideas, solve problems and learn. I have been lucky to have had fantastic mentors. I have also learnt a lot from mentoring others. If you are interested in trying, this blog is for you.
- Teaching or guiding someone else boosts your learning; there is no better way.
- Being asked good questions increases your self-awareness. You may be surprised by how much knowledge and experience you have to offer.
- Giving makes you feel good. Times may be hard, but they are even tougher for younger people. Supporting a talented young person can help put your situation in perspective.
- Be honest: Explaining how you handled difficulties can be just as important as giving your recipes for success – sometimes more so.
- Listen openly and fully: Avoid jumping to what you think are solutions while the person asks you a question; this can stop you absorbing everything the person wants to tell you.
- Relax, engage and enjoy: Don’t clock-watch in the sessions. If you really can’t make time for the person, explain and reschedule.
- Be clear: You need someone with whom you can develop a rapport and who can offer what you need. First profile your ideal mentor. What professional experience and personal qualities will help you? Do you need a role model who resembles you in some way? Someone in your own line of work? Or someone who brings fresh ideas from a totally different context?
- Sell yourself: Summarise what is special about you. Highlight evidence of your capacity to learn and develop. Put this in a short ‘pitch’ you can email to a potential mentor. What might they learn from you? Prepare for practicalities – time, communication – and do everything to make life easier for the mentor.
- Ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say no, but that is not the
end of the world. Most people are open to suggestions and feel flattered that someone wants them to be their mentor.
- Review the relationship regularly: Ask for honest feedback and give it. Keep the learning channels open.
- Make the most of the relationship: Make time to work out your priorities before each meeting and email your agenda to your mentor. In discussions, take notes, then re-read them and use them to work out your next steps, or further questions you may have.
Check out this new book to which I have contributed a case study: [external-link title="this is a link" url="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Developing-Successful-Diversity-Mentoring-Programmes/dp/0335243886/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342448796&sr=1-8" text="Click here for details."]