Basics for Mentees, Part 2
by Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones

In July 2006 this web column presented several tips for those of you who are new at being a mentee. Included were the following suggestions:

1. Recognize that mentoring is ONE key development tool. (Remember, there are many others such as courses, books, coaches, self-reflection, and more.)

2. Always think “what” before “whom.” (Start with what you want to develop; then shop for mentors.)

3. Don’t wait for the ideal mentor. (Instead pull key learning from several.)

4. Expect to lead the relationship. (But do remember good mentoring protocol.)

5. Negotiate several factors, especially time and expectations. (Bring up the details early, and come to agreement on them.)

Here are four more ideas to keep in mind and to implement when you need them.

6. Do everything you agree to do and otherwise motivate your mentor.

Build your mentors’ trust in you by keeping every commitment you make. Go the extra mile in fact. Let your mentors know that you tried their suggestions, and this is what happened. Thank them and give them compliments about their skills, mentoring style, accomplishments, stories, frankness with you, and all the other admirable things they offer you.

7. Smoothly transition when it’s time.

If you have strong mentors, you’ll be tempted to hold on to them indefinitely. With effective mentoring, however, it’s vital to let go and transition into a different relationship when the time is right. Once you’ve completed your agreed-upon time together and/or when you’ve learned what you need to learn for now, you can segue into a different type of relationship.

Perhaps your structured/formal mentoring relationship will ease into an informal mentoring arrangement in which you’ll check in much less often. Or perhaps you’ll become business friends or even close friends. Early and throughout your relationship, discuss “D Day” (Departure Day), and think of it in positive terms. Making this transition will free you and your mentors to have other good relationships.

8. Become a strong mentor yourself.

Throughout your experience as a mentee, note what makes mentoring succeed, what you like, and what you don’t. Prepare to take on a new (or improved) mentor role with others in the future! Your future mentees are out there waiting for you, and nothing would honor your mentors more!

For more ideas on being an effective mentee, see our Archive and Products.

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