Great mentoring relationships don’t happen by accident; they are intentional. As a mentor, you have tremendous influence over the trajectory of another person’s career. Whether you are part of a structured mentoring program at your firm or have taken it upon yourself to mentor an associate at work, it’s important to keep the following 5 things in mind to ensure that both you and your mentee get the most out of the relationship.
Be Available and Present
Yes you are a busy professional, but as a mentor, you need to make yourself available to your mentee. As a mentee, there's nothing worse than having a mentor you can never get a hold of. Set a contact schedule so you will know how often you and your mentee will meet in person, as well as the best times the mentee can contact you. Be clear on how you prefer to be communicated with, whether it is via phone, email or text during the weekday, evening or during a specific time slot.
Also, when you do meet with your mentee, be fully present and engaged in the meeting. He or she doesn’t want to compete with your phone or email when trying to have a dialogue with you. Put your phone on silent and give your mentee your undivided attention when they are in your presence.
Discuss with the mentee what their career goals are and what they want to get out of the mentoring relationship. Take that information and devise a plan to tackle together and set goals for the mentee to accomplish, as well as deadlines and milestones to hit.
A lot of people put the onus on the mentee to be the one to reach out to the mentor, but a relationship is a two-way street. As a mentor, you should also initiate contact with the mentee to check-in, see how they are doing or share information you receive that would help them. The more proactive you are about being involved in their life/career, the more fulfilling the relationship will be.
Share Your Resources
One of the benefits of the mentoring relationship is access to information and connections. Don’t be stingy with your resources. If your mentee has shown to be serious about their own development, introduce them to some key contacts that could help elevate them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Have The Tough Conversations
Your job as a mentor isn’t solely to motivate and inspire, but it is to give guidance and critical feedback. Your mentee can’t grow to the next level, if they don’t know they’re doing something wrong. If you see your mentee can improve in certain areas, don’t hesitate to bring it up. The key is to be tactful in your approach so your message is better received.