Continuing our ongoing discussion of mentorship as part of National Mentoring Month, we already looked at how to be a great mentor, and this time we will take a look at the other side of the mentoring relationship and talk about how to be a great mentee. If you are having trouble finding a mentor in your industry, look here for tips.
As a mentee, it is important to remember just how fortunate it is to have a mentor and how valuable their time is. Remember to always be respectful and understanding of your mentor’s time and look for ways to make scheduling easier for both of you. Make sure that you are thoughtful and putting in all the necessary effort to develop this relationship. Look for ways to show your appreciation by writing thank you notes and look for ways to do something for them when you can.
If there is a significant age (or other) difference between you two, remember to appreciate and understand where they are coming from. If it is age, keep in mind that while technology and other aspects of the modern world has changed, most of the fundamentals underlying the way businesses function have not, and there is still much you can learn about them. Understanding how things got to be the way they are and how people used to work in those conditions can provide great insight in today’s world and how to avoid making mistakes of the past. Remember that newer is not always better.
Mentors can be intimidating and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and a little afraid to ask questions. However, asking questions is an essential part of any mentor-mentee relationship, and you should work hard to be confident and not to hesitate to ask thoughtful questions. Neither one of you benefits from a lack of comprehension, so do not be afraid to politely interrupt your mentor, so you can follow along and understand what they are telling you. Nevertheless, this should not be a shortcut to knowledge, and you should be sure that you are putting in your fair share of outside effort to learn so that they are not babying you along the way. Your mentor should let you know if a question is one that they cannot answer or if they need more time to think about it before answering. Candid conversations are important in developing an honest relationship between you and your mentor, so remember to be honest and be prepared to listen to criticism that may be blunt at times.
Think of the mentor-mentee relationship as a two-way street. While sometimes it may be hard to see what you have to contribute, remember that just providing a fresh perspective on something, even if it is a less-experienced one, is still useful in and of itself. Over time, you will learn what your mentor is an expert on and what areas they may have room for growth that you may be able to help facilitate through your own expertise. If you put in the effort, respect, and appreciation, you will be on your way to being a great mentee that will be able to achieve more of your personal and business goals through this rewarding relationship.
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