So you've got yourself a mentor – congrats! Mentoring has the power to do wonders for your professional and personal development, but it takes dedication and effort to be rewarding.
You can't expect your mentor to do everything for you. In fact, the harder you work on the relationship, the more your mentor will help and the more you'll get out of it.
Here are our Top 5 Tips On How To Be A Good Mentee...
1. Come prepared
This is very important as it reflects your dedication to the mentoring relationship. Good mentees will have thought long and hard about why they want a mentor and what they're hoping to gain. They will also have an awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.
Put some time into preparing this before your first session so you're ready to discuss it articulately when you meet. Present your goals and be clear about what areas you need help with.
This is also a good opportunity to bring up any expectations you have about the mentoring process and how it will work.
💡 Top Tip 💡 If you want to be a really good mentee, prepare an agenda. Come up with 2-3 discussion topics or questions that you would like to cover in your mentoring session before you meet. You cab even email this to your mentor in advance to help guide the meeting.
2. Ask insightful questions
The best mentees are inquisitive! Another way you can prepare for a good mentoring session is to think of some insightful questions beforehand.
Here are a few examples of questions that we recommend to get you started:
"What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned, and how is it valuable?"
"Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult boss? How did you handle it?
"How did you build the skills of speaking so engagingly in front of others?"
"How can I become better at managing people who do not report to me?"
"How did you learn to embrace failure?"
3. Create an action plan...and act on it
Be proactive! Make sure you are taking notes at every mentoring session so you can create an action plan to hit your goals. Your mentor may help with this, but you should be the one driving it.
Write yourself a list of actions before the end of every session. By running these actions by your mentor, you're inviting them to hold you accountable (which means they're more likely to get done).
A Gartner 2006 study found that:
'Participants are 40% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down. This increases to 70% if the goals are shared with someone to keep them accountable, such as a mentor.'
💡 Top Tip 💡 Also, if your mentor opens doors for you, make sure you sprint through them. By introducing you to people in their network, they are personally vouching for you and your abilities. Don't tarnish that by being reactive or slow to respond.
4. Reflect and ask for for feedback
At the beginning of every session, reflect on your accomplishments so far and share any learnings with your mentor. There’s nothing more rewarding for a mentor than seeing their advice come into practice and you growing as a result of it, so keep them in the loop!
Another way to be a good mentee is not only being open to feedback, but actively asking for it.
Asking for feedback shows a hunger to learn and improve, which is a stand out characteristic of a good mentee.
Try open ended questions on a specific topic, such as:
"Which parts of my approach to teamwork concern you the most?"
"What do you think is working and not working in my pitch?"
"What could I do differently that would have the greatest impact on my success?"
Remember to not take negative feedback personally. Rather see it as a personal challenge to improve!
4. Be the driver and always follow up
Your mentoring relationship is about you achieving your goals, so don't expect your mentor to drive it. You need to take responsibility for your development and you'll get out what you put in!
Make sure to always log notes from your meetings and follow up immediately after with a summary of the session, a list of your actions and any ways they can support you. As well as this, always lead on booking in your next session with your mentor.
It's also nice to show your appreciation by sending your mentor a thank you message, or getting a coffee if you’re meeting in person!
Some other tips to keep in mind to be a good mentee:
A mentor is not a therapist! Try to avoid conversations that veer away from your goals or objectives.
Common traits of successful mentees include being: enthusiastic, energetic, organised, and focused.
Appreciate your mentor's time! Avoid sending emails with long winding questions, and instead, frame questions in a way that makes it easy for them to provide feedback on.
Everything you say is entirely confidential, and your mentor knows that too! Try and be as open as possible, as trust between you and your mentor will need to be developed and nurtured.