Tag Archives: mentors

Mentoring 101: Finding the Right Fit is Key to Successful Relationships

Mentorships are a time-honored tradition in the workforce. From entry-level recent graduates to mid-career professionals making a move toward the C-suite, there’s an opportunity to take an employee’s training and development to the next level through mentorship relationships.

And the statistics show mentors can have a major impact on not just the mentee’s success, but also on the productivity of a business overall.

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, younger employees intending to stay with their organization more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. And, 71 percent of those likely to leave in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.

So, there’s little doubt that a strong culture of mentorship is important for building a productive and engaged workforce.

But before you jump headfirst into a mentor relationship with a bright, up-and-coming employee, there are a few considerations you should make to ensure the relationship is productive for everyone involved.

What can you offer vs. what does your mentee need?
First and foremost, is the relationship even a good fit? There’s much more to it than simply pairing a senior leader with a younger employee. Before any official relationship is established, there should be discussions about what the mentee’s goals are and what the mentor is willing and able to provide.

Forcing a poor fit will likely be a waste of time for both parties in the long run. Mentorships are first and foremost a relationship. And if either the mentor or the mentee are not getting what they need out of the arrangement, it’s best to be open and honest about the situation and to help each other find a better fit.

Is the mentee ready to learn?
There’s a saying that success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Even if you sense potential in a young employee, if they are not prepared to take the next step and make a commitment to a mentorship relationship, you shouldn’t try to rush it.

Again, this is where communication about what the mentor and mentee expect to gain out of the relationship plays a major role. If a mentor feels their potential mentee is not ready to fully engage in the process, it may be more beneficial to put the plan on hold until they are.

What can you learn from the mentee?
Mentorships aren’t a one-way street. No matter how experienced a mentor may be, there’s always something new to learn—and those lessons may very well come from their mentee. The best relationships are an exchange of knowledge where both parties benefit from the experience.

A millennial mentee, for example, may be able to teach a baby boomer mentor about the most current trends in social media or other communications technologies. Being blind to rank and open to learning new skills or taking advantage of each other’s unique expertise is key to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Mentorships take many forms and in the end, it’s up to the individuals involved to find the right fit for their development needs. Communication, setting expectations, and a willingness to learn are some of the most important characteristics of any great work relationship, and essential to successfully mentoring the next generation of leaders.

 

Building Important Relationships Through Mentorship

building_relationships_through_mentorships_webMentorships have been around for centuries as a way to build personal development and growth. According to Mentoring.org, mentoring “guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter.”

In fact, research confirms that quality mentoring relationships can help young people in various areas of life, including personal, academic, and professional.

Key Factors for Positive Mentorships
Since mentoring relationships are so beneficial, it’s important to understand what goes into a successful mentorship. According to research, most of the mentors in failed mentoring relationships hold a belief that they should reform, or fix, their mentee. Alternatively, almost all of the mentors in successful relationships believe their role is to support the mentee, or help them develop and grow.

The Hamilton Fish Institute, a research organization for safer schools, revealed 10 important features of successful mentors, including:

  • Be a friend.
  • Have realistic goals and expectations.
  • Give the mentee a voice and choice in decisions.
  • Be positive.
  • Let the mentee have control over what you talk about.

In order to better prepare yourself for a mentoring relationship, whether you’re the mentor or mentee, let’s dig a little deeper into three of those features.

Be a friend.
Mentors can be anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity, education or professional level, or background. For example, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America helps volunteers connect with youth in need of guidance and support. The key to being a great Big Brother or Big Sister is being a friend first. Leadership, guidance, advice, and trust come much easier when a friendship is already established.

If you are looking for a mentor or already have one, it may be difficult to build trust initially. But, if your mentor’s intentions truly are to help you grow and develop, trusting their advice and action plans can help you get where you want to be in your life, education, or career. And remember – it’s important to look at your mentors as friends, but it’s equally important to respect them as authority figures.

Have realistic goals and expectations.
As with all new ventures and relationships, it’s important to set realistic expectations. If you go into a mentorship with the goal of changing your mentee, but your mentee’s goal is to stay on the same path they’re already on, there are going to be disagreements and frustrations. Mentors should focus on establishing a positive relationship built on trust and friendship first. From there, the mentee and mentor can set expectations together.

Mentees should also approach the relationship with realistic expectations. If your mentor is a business leader, it may not be realistic to expect you’ll land a job with their company because of your connection. Instead of facing possible disappointment in the future, discuss your expectations up front. That way, you’ll be on the same page and you can set goals that will help you develop and grow.

Be Positive
Compliments and positive attitudes can go a long way. As a mentor, it’s important to offer praise and encouragement to help build your mentee’s self-esteem. Instead of criticizing mistakes, try to be supportive and ask how you can help the situation. According to the Hamilton Fish Institute, “One of the most important things you can do as a mentor is to help your mentee develop self-esteem and self-confidence.”

Likewise, being positive applies to the mentee as well. If you have a mentor, always be courteous and appreciative of their time and advice. You may not always agree with their suggestions, but it’s important to remain positive when you explain your opinion. When both people in a mentorship are positive and respectful, much more can be accomplished.

How do you build successful mentorships? Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor? Share your story in the comments section below!

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