How to Get the Most Out of Mentors

It can be challenging to figure out what to get from a mentorship. Haven’t you already grown your career without a mentor’s help?

Mentoring, at any point in one’s career, is a relationship that fosters collaborative knowledge-sharing. This is why the larger share of Fortune 500 companies today, nearly 71 percent, run in-house mentorship programs. 

There’s no doubt that aspiring, determined and hardworking individuals will become future successful leaders. But a mentor speeds the process of achieving business success. Mentorship even facilitates efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion in organizations

Bob Proctor once said, 

“A mentor is someone who sees more ability and talent within you than you see yourself. And they don’t just stop there; they bring the attributes out of you!” 

This article will discuss how and what to get out of a mentorship. We will also share tips for mentees to make their mentoring relationship great. Keep reading! 

Why mentorship is important to your career development 

We often assume that successful career development requires job-related and technical skills. But the reality is that career development depends on numerous other factors too. To craft a successful career, you typically need to excel in communication skills, networking, and professional relationships while having an unparalleled career vision. 

But none of us are born with those skills. We have to build them over time, under the guidance of someone who has already perfected them. A primary reason why many fail to climb up the ladder of corporate success, despite being good in their roles is the lack of essential competencies. 

That’s where mentors come in: they help professionals develop critical skills. Moreover, mentors facilitate professionals in building key relationships and expanding their networks. Mentoring relationships can be the transformational key that can empower beginner professionals to achieve career success in real-time. 

Some of the key reasons why professionals need mentors are as follows:

  • Mentorship provides professionals with additional knowledge and support. An impactful mentoring relationship can arm employees with institutional knowledge and new skills. Additionally, mentees will also benefit from the mentors’ encouragement, wisdom, and experienced advice. 
  • Mentoring relationships provide sound guidance and feedback to professionals, further improving their workplace performance. They can transform into productive employees more effectively and quickly with robust mentoring. 
  • Since mentorship improves one’s career development and workplace performance, it also improves their earnings. Studies prove that mentoring leads to promotions, increased salary and job satisfaction.

Examples of skills a mentor can help you develop 

There are many benefits of mentorship, but what stands out are the skills a mentor can help you develop that seal career success. From acting as your most trusted advisor to supporting you with new skills, innovative ideas, and encouragement: mentors are invaluable

Any successful professional, who made it to the executive level, will tell you that a mentor made an essential contribution to their career growth. 

Here are some of the critical skills a mentor can help you learn:

Leadership skills 

Mentoring is a powerful and effective way of accelerating your learning. It is a tool, a resource that helps develop and refine leadership skills for any future leader, professional, business owner, or entrepreneur. 

Mentors help teach your leadership qualities by channelling your focus and helping you gain clarity. They help broaden your perspective and address issues with the finesse of a visionary leader. Mentors provide substantial encouragement, inspiration, and moral support throughout your learning. 

Moreover, they help you broaden your network and access established leaders in their circles, which might be an invaluable resource for success. But professionals don’t just become leaders with sweet talk and positive feedback. 

The open candidness, which mentors provide, refines a professional the most. For instance, your mentor will hold a mirror to you and show you how your tunnel vision, overcautious nature, and limiting beliefs and perspectives are holding you back. 

Your mentor will point out the flaws in your approach, thinking, and plans. They will show you all those obstacles holding you back from making the bold move. In a nutshell, a mentor is like an honest friend who helps you uncover your hidden strengths by pointing out your flaws unhesitatingly. 

Communication skills

Mentors become professional’s role models for desired behaviours. The latter also includes impressive communication skills. Interacting with your mentor allows you to observe your mentor closely, how they communicate, carry themselves, use their body language, etc.

These are all the effective behaviours that further build your chances of success and productive relationships in the workplace. Moreover, the mentor, in turn, gets to observe your communication style and correct you where needed. They teach you how to become effective, transparent, and accomplished communicators like themselves. 

Problem-solvings kills 

A mentor helps you grow by changing the ways of your thinking if they’re flawed and not solution-oriented. Mentors recognize that problem-solving is crucial, especially for those who aim to become future leaders. 

Thus, mentors model this vital skill for their protégés and provide the following process to help the latter achieve it:

  • Identifying and clarifying underlying issues in a problem. 
  • The ability to foresee the ripple effects of the problems means the other issues that will resultantly occur. 
  • Learning to solve one problem at a time. 
  • Outlining several solutions for one problem while carefully weighing the pros and cons of each. 
  • Selecting the best solution and implementing it. 
  • Making necessary adjustments. 
  • Reviewing the results and assessing what made or didn’t make the solution successful. 

How to get the most out of mentorship: A guide for mentees

We have established by now how a good mentor is crucial for career growth and essential skills. But as is the case with all the other relationships in life, one must proceed with their mentoring relationship with the utmost care, planning, and balance. 

Only when you take the proper steps and lay a well-planned path for the mentoring relationship can you expect it to be fruitful. You can find plenty of guidelines in mentoring relationships. Below, we have put together a quick guide for mentees to know what to get out of mentorship and how to make the most of this relationship. 

Set goals at the start of the relationship 

Setting goals at the start of the relationship will help you stay focused on the objectives you aim to accomplish. Surely your primary objective will be to develop professionally to the best under your mentor’s guidance. 

But as a secondary goal, you should seek to improve your organzation through your performance. Mentoring goals need a balance between the personal benefits and the professional. For example, when mentors train mentees regarding workplace procedures, expectations, and policies, they create a more productive environment in the organization.  

Plan ahead; set an agenda before each session 

Coming prepared for the mentoring session is non-negotiable. When you plan and set a schedule for each session, you are respecting the time and efforts of both the mentor and mentee. Hence, always prepare and set an agenda for the session. 

Perhaps you could create a planner for all the sessions your mentoring program consists of. You could focus on communication skills in one session, effective behaviours in the other, problem-solving and soft skills in the next, and so on. We have a plenty of sample questions you could ask your mentor within our platform.

Consolidating your thoughts, planning discussion points, and noting questions in advance while sending a preview of the agendas for each session to your mentor will ensure the best learning outcome. 

Don’t vent, but seek advice to solve problems 

An important fact to remember is that mentoring sessions are not your venting outlets. Your primary goal is to seek solutions to your problems in workplace performance and to develop skills to grow successfully. 

When you only come intending to vent out at each session, you will not come with a learning-focused mind and willingness. Remember, every mentee is there to learn from the mentor’s wisdom, experience, and mature insights. When you make this your priority and come with a desire to seek rich advice, you’ll return as an educated, prepared, and skilled professional. 

Be honest, and share feedback to improve the relationship 

Mentoring relationships are just like others: honesty must take precedence. Therefore, take feedback positively as a mentee and use it to avoid mistakes in the future. At the same time, feel empowered to speak up when you feel the mentor can take a different or more wholesome approach to teaching. 

Bring a Positive Attitude and be Receptive to Learning 

As we said, coming with the intention and willingness to learn will guarantee the best and maximum learning outcomes. When you come with a positive attitude to your mentoring sessions, you’ll be more open to learning the best skills, effective behaviours, and competencies the mentor has to give. 

But the wrong attitude will change your priorities and make your focus go off-track. 

Be focused; turn off notifications 

Treat every mentoring session just like university class. The lesser the distractions, the more you’ll learn by focusing on what the mentor shares. Constant alerts from your phone, notifications, and others can be very distracting and make you lose half of the gist of the sessions. Not to mention that it’s disrespectful to your mentor if you’re on your phone.

Agree on meeting times, but don’t be rigid

The rigidity can be overwhelming for all. Instead of saying, “let’s meet every Tuesday at 3 pm,” you could commit to meeting once a week or month. Flexibility makes relationships work better, especially in mentoring sessions. 

Repeat back the advice you’re hearing

Teachers love affirmations that confirm students are receiving their knowledge-sharing well. Similarly, mentors gain encouragement when you affirm you’re heading their advice accurately by repeating them. 

Source: Together

By Kelli Delfosse
Kelli Delfosse