The mentor/mentee (protégé) relationship, whether corporate or otherwise is a special and powerful bond, which centers on a person of greater experience and knowledge sharing valuable advice and insight with someone with less experience, in order to groom them to succeed in that area of expertise. The precise definition of mentorship is elusive, but what is inarguable is the relationship structure, which boosts role modeling, communication, career guidance, and/or psychological support.
There are multiple ways to encourage the success of this invaluable relationship, and one way to do this is by respecting the dynamics and boundaries of this relationship, so that realistic goals are set, and the relationship is productive and effective for both parties involved. Understanding the value of others’ time is a large part of that, as well as readiness and being responsible.
Keep the channels of communication open
It’s necessary that those functioning on both sides of mentorship are honest and upfront with what’s expected and what can be accomplished. The mentee should verbalize goals and expected takeaways, while the mentor should help to manage expectations. Also, those in this relationship must make sure they’re demonstrating that they’re active listeners, which is not just critical, it’s rewarding.
Be supportive and dedicate yourself to support
The ability to take pride in the work of a partner is so important. Harvesting a relationship with someone who wants to see you grow, and cares passionately about your career trajectory, is an asset. Having someone aside from yourself dedicated to your growth is invaluable, there’s nothing quite like having someone tucking you neatly beneath your wing and vice versa. A great mentor will teach “success” habits, such as being organized, which further cements the likelihood of success. A great mentee will accept support and education while remembering that investment into his/her life doesn’t mean that they’re more valuable than anyone else. They, too, must look to support the success others beyond their mentor, including their fellow employees or peers.
Be curious and seek answers
It’s the work of the mentor and mentee to be curious. They should always seek out questions and answers to those questions, the everyone will benefit. Only positive things happen when a person educates him/herself.
Step outside of your comfort zones
Rather than leaning too intently on this two person relationship, look to others who can share new thoughts and ideas. Stepping outside of the box promises personal and professional growth, equipping mentees and mentors with knowledge they otherwise may not have been privy to. This can also open their eyes to the things happening within the industry and other departments as to gain a “big picture view of the world.”
Remember, mentors are present for mentees, but they’re only a guide, mentees should be thirsty to engage in communication with others who can educate them and they should work with their mentor develop a plan of action. Both mentors and mentees should review goals, measure achievement, be responsive, be tactful, be honest, be innovative and creative, demonstrate realizability, and stay positive in the face of feedback.