What it takes to be a good mentee


What It Takes To Be A Good Mentee and what makes a successful relationship We hear a lot about the value of a mentor, but a less appreciated insight is that some people are easier to mentor than others. If you want to attract and keep great mentors, here’s how to stand out.

Next week: Hard-nosed sharing is the name of a new game

The search You may well need more than one mentor – as your business develops and your needs change. There is always the need to be able to talk things through, but there are also more specific and more ephemeral needs as your enterprise evolves (1). Look for people inside and outside your workplace – peers are an underutilised source of mentoring support, says one expert. The best way to catch a mentor is to show you know what you need.

Take the lead Good protégés take the lead in the relationship because it’s about their development. If you can be clear about your expectations – what you want and why you want it, and the time commitment, and if you can have an agenda in advance of every meeting, with a specific objective, you make it easy on people. [But: you don’t know what you don’t know, and there are times when the insights and experience of others may be just what you need: make room for them too.]

Follow through on advice If a mentor gives you a suggestion of something to try, try it [or at least test it]. If you disagree, “have a dialogue about it.” Failure to follow through can quickly sour the relationship. “If you say you’re going to do these four things and they don’t happen, the next time we talk it gets uncomfortable.” Not only will your mentor think you’re wasting their time, he or she might also think that you are not worth it.

Meet on your mentor’s terms Go to his or her office or home. Join them to fit in with their agenda. Not only will this make life easier for your mentor, but it also means he or she may be willing to meet more often. “Interaction frequency is one of the highest predictors of feeling close to someone.”

Make it a two-way street Both parties in a mentor/mentee relationship learn something from it. So be on the lookout for articles or people your mentor might find interesting. If your mentor works inside your organisation, talk him or her up in your networks. And finally, say thank you. “It’s the littlest thing, but conveying appreciation is really important.” Lots of people don’t send thank-you notes: people who do make an impression.

A bowdlerised version of a great article that appeared in Fast Company magazine by writer on management Laura Vanderkam (I just hope she doesn’t sue me!)

(1) A US Professor on the five types of mentors you need
You can’t expect one person to be able to give you all the career guidance you need. Here are the people you need on your team. By Art Markman (http://wp.me/p3beJt-am)