3 Tips on how to be a great mentee
Professionals are told all the time to get a mentor. However, knowing how to keep one is just as important. Good mentors are in high demand and all will tell you their most precious commodity is time. So here are 3 key steps to maintaining a successful mentor relationship.
Be respectful of time
Follow-up and share good news
As the mentee you are accountable for the relationship with your mentor. You need to step up and take charge of scheduling time to speak, sending an agenda in advance as well as any other information that might be helpful background to the topic. It is not the mentor’s role to do this. You are the one that is asking for their advice. The easier you make it for the mentor to work with you, the more likely they will continue to do so.
Do not waste their time. Be on time and end on time. It demonstrates respect. Have substantive topics, situations or challenges to discuss that are within your mentor’s wheelhouse. Don’t just fill the time with questions other less experienced people could help you with. If you do, your mentor may refer you away to someone else over time. A mentor needs to feel they are adding real value and spending time with you is worth it. It is a symbiotic relationship. They need to get something from the relationship as well to want to continue.
Which brings me to my last point. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve given someone advice or encouraged new ways of thinking about a situation and have never heard back from that person. As a mentor, a good part of the value I receive from dedicating time with someone is to see that I’ve made an impact. So as a mentee, follow up after sessions and let the mentor know what happened. Share good news regarding your job, career, recognition etc… It will help your mentor see that you value their advice and that the time they are spending with you is having an impact. If you only reach out when you need help, it is a transactional relationship and those are hard to maintain.
Around a decade ago a young woman “bought me”, literally. A lunch with me was auctioned off for a charity. She was smart and ambitious. She asked me what made a good mentee. I told her. A decade later, I am still one of her mentors. She actually listened, and followed through. She is now a General Manager for a Fortune 100 company. She is my longest running active mentee.