Mentoring - The Missing Link to Rockstar Status (part 2)

  • 20 Aug 2020
  • Keith,  Michelle

In the first part of this blog Keith and Michelle looked at how mentoring can help with professional growth and examined the role of mentors and mentees. This blog builds on the theme...

Achieving Success

Once a mentor and mentee get acquainted and have agreed on moving forward, it’s then time to negotiate on how’ll you’ll work together, how often you’ll meet, length of the relationship, and protecting each other's confidentiality. Usually, it is the mentee's responsibility to drive the conversation of each meeting, but it helps when the mentor gives guidance on where to begin and how to proceed best, including taking the lead if the conversation is lagging. Before dealing with the hard stuff, always start slow and get to know each other, which facilitates the formation of a healthy relationship.

Before initial and subsequent meetings, the mentee should prepare an agenda and distribute it beforehand to help focus on specific objectives, areas of growth, and to keep discussions on track. Initially, it is helpful for the mentee to complete a sharing exercise to think through and document competencies/skills necessary for success in both their current role and the next level up. To enhance the mentee’s potential for professional growth, both the mentor and mentee should collaborate on defining realistic goals for the mentee using the S.M.A.R.T. approach: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. A mentor should share articles, white papers, journals, and suggest various groups to follow on social media, not to mention companies that offer free webinars, training, and conferences.

One exercise worth considering is a vision assignment where the mentee writes what a perfect and not so perfect week looks like.

Questions can include: What are you doing at work? What tasks or projects do you and other people own? What challenges are you facing at home or work? How are people acting? How does it make you feel? Most of us go through life, viewing our experiences as isolated, unrelated events. Reflecting on work enhances its meaning and provides us learning and growth opportunities.

Depending on the mentee’s comfort level, it can also be beneficial to discuss past self-assessments, performance appraisals, manager comments, and mentor observations. Other discussions can vary from specific "How-To" for tasks the mentee may struggle with at work to handling a problematic coworker or even suggestions on how to network outside of his or her company. Networking can include business, educational, and volunteer events. A mentor is a valuable resource, but if the mentee does not prepare accordingly or is not open to new ideas, that resource can become a missed opportunity.  Both parties must be engaged, flexible, authentic, and be reciprocal.

Benefits to the Mentor

  1. Be a better leader–Leadership is a valuable skill in any environment, and mentoring affords you the ability to use your influence to inspire and motivate others by modeling the behaviors, skills, or ideals you embrace.
  2. Gain a new perspective–Stepping outside of your usual professional and social circles allows you to gain an intimate understanding of how the profession looks through someone else's eyes, including the challenges they face.
  3. Exercise emotional intelligence–Working with another person, one-on-one, requires you to sharpen your emotional intelligence by gauging the emotional state of the person you're mentoring and respond with empathy.
  4. Help your profession–Sharing your knowledge, success, and mistakes assist your mentee with daily workflows, practice changes, and prevents burnout while creating a universal buy-in that "we're all in this together."
  5. Shape tomorrow's leaders-Leaders become great, not because of their power, but their ability to empower others. Mentoring provides an excellent opportunity to spur positive change and shape the next generation of leaders in your profession. 

Benefits to the Mentee

  1. Be a better student-Education and growth, both professionally and personally, do not end with a certification or college graduation. It's easy to fall into your day to day at work and not continue to educate yourself on the industry and the world around you professionally. Having a mentor to help guide and encourage you beyond traditional classroom education and work through goals and maintain a steady focus could be an enormous success factor. 
  2. Gain a new perspective-When you are new to a role or a specific industry; it's hard to understand if you are learning industry best practices or practices specific to your company and organization. Your mentor can help guide you to the right resources to help ensure you get several perspectives to learn what best fits your career, day-to-day job, and even personal goals. 
  3. Grow emotional intelligence-The ability to speak openly and honestly with someone you have builds trust and respect with is a huge benefit in the mentor/mentee relationship. Open and honest feedback on the way you may deal with a coworker, a direct or indirect boss, or even a customer can be very eye-opening. The ability to be candid about your feelings, ones you may not feel comfortable confiding in your boss or coworkers, allows discussion around various scenarios that you may not work through on your own.   
  4. Help your profession-Besides various resource sharing and help in achieving specific professional goals; a mentor can help pave the way for networking opportunities, community involvement, and hands-on experiences outside of your company or organization.   
  5. Become tomorrow's leader-A leader is someone who takes the time to work with and grow others. What better way to learn how to become the best leader you can by working closely with someone who volunteers to do just that?  

Everything in our world is passed down, including each piece of knowledge ever shared by someone else. No matter where you are in your career, seeking a mentor or becoming a mentor can only reap rewards for all.  Think about where you are in life. Are you ready to become a Rockstar?

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