Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How to be a good mentee. No really.

I was thinking about how mentee-mentor relationships can fizzle out, often with one of both parties going to ground if future instances to mentor become available because of this.

I think this is a pity as there is so much to be gained from it for both parties. If you are having problems why not try the following:

1. Have some structure to the meeting and areas you know you wish to cover
Sometimes you can get 'mentee fatigue' - a couple of weeks in to the relationship you think you might be running out of areas to cover and are wondering if there is a lack of purpose to it.

This might be a reflection that the process has genuinely run its course - for example, if it was going for some 7 or 8 months maybe it has reached its natural conclusion? However before you let it come to a close have a look at the reasons which made you seek out the relationship in the first place. Use this to then make an informed decision you about what your next discussions are and whether this will meet the your learning needs - remember the learner needs to set the agenda and the mentor then helps facilitate you with finding the answers.

2. Give yourself a time limit for matters you wish to discuss
Your time is precious so when you decide upon what you want to cover think about  how much time you need to give to each subject. Think you are over running?  Draw that point/subject area to a close and move on. If the subject is that important use this as the basis of the next areas to cover when you next meet/communicate.

When my mentor said 'treat every meeting like it is your last' they meant it.
Alternativelty, after over running you might also find from research in between meetings/calls that you come across an answer yourself - saving time that would have cut in to the next mentor/mentee chat as well as getting in to a starter-finisher habit with your own professional development.

3. Priority problems? Make that your priority
Still having problems with allotting the time? Then perhaps the problem is not that you are covering really interesting subject areas but your prioritisation skills need some work? Hell if you are short of subject areas there is another agenda item for when you next meet?!

In short you get out what you put in - and the benefits of mentoring are too great for you not to spend some time thinking about it.

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