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A cheat sheet for getting the most from your mentor

One of the biggest mistakes mentees make in their relationships with mentors is viewing themselves as passive recipients. But the truth is that being mentored is a skill. It’s not one that’s difficult to master, but it does require taking an active role. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of what you need to do to get the most out of your mentoring relationship.

Cultivate the right traits

There are certain characteristics that lend themselves to being a good mentee. Thankfully, these are all traits that you can strengthen with practice. Below are three that we believe are critical for a successful mentoring relationship: 

Patience

During the mentorship process, you set goals for what you want to achieve. While you may envision yourself meeting all your milestones in the first month, the reality is that mentoring is a slow and gradual process. Good mentees recognize this and are willing to commit to the relationship, knowing that while they see some immediate benefits, the real payoff happens over years – not weeks. 

Receptiveness

It’s also important for mentees to be receptive to feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or constructive. When mentees are open-minded about learning their strengths and weaknesses, they develop more self-awareness and make faster progress toward their goals.

Purposefulness

As a mentee, you’re going to receive a lot of valuable advice from your mentor. But it’s not enough to just listen to this guidance – as a mentee, you need to act on that advice to see progress. That’s why we encourage mentees to take notes during sessions with their mentors, devise an action plan, and take the appropriate steps. 

Prepare for mentoring sessions

Many mentees make the mistake of showing up to their sessions with the expectation that the mentor will drive the conversation. Remember: these sessions are mainly for your benefit. To make the most of your limited time with your mentor, we recommend doing the following in advance:

  • Think about your goals for the upcoming meeting
  • Create an agenda, and share it with your mentor for feedback
  • Write down a list of questions you want to ask
  • Review your notes from the last meeting 

Articulate your short and long-term goals

Your mentor is there to help you achieve your personal and professional milestones. But you have to know what they are to get the most out of your mentoring relationship. While you can certainly adjust your goals along the way, it’s ultimately your responsibility to steer the relationship in the right direction.

If you’re having trouble articulating your goals, don’t be afraid to ask your mentor for help! For instance, you can say: “I know I want to eventually manage a team of people, but I don’t know how to translate that vision into short and long-term goals. Can you help me?” Together, you can formulate a series of goals that feel good to you.

Share feedback

We mentioned earlier in the post that it’s important to be receptive to feedback. While this is true, it’s also just as critical to be willing to share feedback with your mentor. If you have suggestions on how to improve your meetings, or if there’s something about the way your mentor communicates that confuses you, let them know.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of giving feedback to your mentor or aren’t sure where to start, remember that effective feedback is: 

  • Descriptive rather than evaluative
  • Specific rather than general
  • Accountable to the needs of both the receiver and provider
  • Directed toward behavior the receiver can control
  • Solicited rather than imposed
  • Well timed
  • Clear

This type of honesty ensures that your time together is being used effectively. Also, don’t forget: company leaders experience a lot of benefits from being mentors too. Receiving feedback from their mentees is a great growth opportunity for them! 

Nurture the relationship

Again, it’s not only the mentor’s responsibility to keep the relationship going. As a mentee, you have the ability to deepen the relationship, whether that’s by checking in with your mentor between sessions or sending them a ‘thank you’ note for all of their help. Gestures like this can make a world of difference when it comes to the quality of your mentoring relationship. 

Having a mentor is a special opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. Use these simple recommendations to make sure you’re getting the most out of your relationship. If you’re curious to learn how Torch can support your organization’s mentoring program, request a demo