Mentoring, coaching, training, counseling – an organization can have many different formal and informal relationships between employees. At Boomer Consulting, Inc., we have a mentorship program that pairs a more experienced mentor with a less experienced partner referred to as a mentee. Mentors and mentees can be in the same department and even in the same position, but the mentor has been in the role longer.
At first, it might seem as though all of the relationship's benefits fall to the mentee. After all, they're the one getting guidance to enhance their skills and knowledge and accelerate their transition into new assignments or roles. But it's actually a win-win for all involved. The mentors have an opportunity to strengthen their leadership effectiveness, gain valuable insight into new ideas and approaches to problems and build the bench so there's someone to fill their role when they're ready to move up.
In my time at Boomer Consulting, I've received a lot of benefits from being mentored by another team member in my department. However, I know that every firm doesn't set up its mentoring program the same way. Today, I'm sharing how we see the mentor/mentee relationship and provide tips for more productive mentor meetings.
Start on a positive note
Mentoring isn't a performance appraisal, and it's not focused on meeting certain metrics. Instead, a mentor meeting is a chance to go over wins and challenges from the past week and get focused for the week ahead.
One of the first things we do in a mentor meeting is to review what is going well. This can be as big as landing a new client, but it can also be smaller, like finishing a challenging task. It's a good opportunity to focus on the positive.
Inevitably, every job has its challenges. Discussing those challenges with a mentor ensures you don't have to carry them on your own. A mentoring meeting is a chance to talk through any challenges or roadblocks you're facing and get guidance to overcome them.
Plan for the week ahead
I have a 30-minute meeting with my mentor in the middle of every week. It's a standing date on both of our calendars. And while we might need to reschedule our meeting occasionally, it's a lot easier to reschedule one meeting than to try to coordinate calendars to find a time that works for both of us week after week.
During this part of the meeting, we review what I have going on in the week ahead. This forward look is helpful because it ensures I'm ready for the week before it gets here and prevents me from forgetting important meetings, deadlines or projects until the last minute.
With a standing meeting on the calendar, it's easy to let our scheduled time arrive without a plan for what to talk about. But that's not the best use of our time.
It's better to come to the meeting with at least one or two topics or issues you've like to get input on. Throughout the week, if you have any thoughts, questions or problems that don't need to be tackled immediately, make a note of them. That way, you're not putting all of the responsibility for deciding what to talk about on your mentor.
Make it a priority
We all have neverending to-do lists and busy schedules, but don't let that be an excuse to put mentor meetings on the backburner. I've come to realize that setting aside 30 minutes per week can save me much more time in the long run.
Often, when I'm having trouble solving a problem or think I need to start a project from scratch, my mentor has ideas or resources that save me hours.
When a mentee handles a mentorship meeting and relationship well, it's an opportunity to demonstrate leadership while also getting wise advice. So set yourself up for success with your mentor by being positive, prepared and engaged in the process. When you do, I think you'll realize the tremendous benefit it can be to your career.
Do you want the tools and accountability to start from where you are now and get where you want to be?
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