Action speaks loudly.
The building blocks of a successful mentor and mentee relationship are not new – come prepared, build trust, and be honest with your expectations. The mentoring best practices are not going to surprise you. As a mentor, you need to let the mentee lead the conversation, document your learning moments, and prioritize the time as well as your needs.
The reality is that mentors are playing the game at a higher level and can challenge and effectively educate mentees. The mentor benefits also arise quickly. As a mentor, you will be able to connect yourself to new talent, advance your network and gain new perspectives.
It is important to remember that making a difference requires taking independent action. The best mentorship opportunities may not be sitting in an adjacent office or work in your zip code; they may not be the manager of your next job or even work in your industry. For me, looking for mentors outside of my home country and beyond my profession brought invaluable perspectives and expedited my appetite to seek new opportunities.
This is a self-started development opportunity and one that requires ambition, an investment beyond 9-5, and putting forth intentional time to do so. It’s that rare attribute that separates average from successful, that X factor or hustle that you cannot teach.
We maximize this opportunity when we are open to trying new things, when we have an appetite to draw outside the lines and when we possess an energy or passion for what we do or want to do.
Mentees and mentors taking action is what makes the difference. The pair needs to:
- Share goals. Be transparent about your interest, potential paths to opportunity and risks that could deliver career defining rewards.
- Provide feedback. This is often overlooked as we travel down paths of least resistance. While we share this accountability, separate yourself and deliver the message.
- Challenge each other. Bring a challenge to every call or meeting based on your previous conversation. Keep learning – education belongs to you.
It’s not the path of least resistance, but for me it has led to some of my most rewarding relationships.
“Mentoring often involves telling people what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. When you are able to be humbly honest with someone about a situation which you have personal experience – even if you risk angering or hurting that person – you are offering the most valuable gift of all.” – John Wooden
Jay Atcheson is Vice President of Marketing at Element Fleet Management and a mentor in our 2017-2018 Mentor Connections program. To learn more about the program, please visit our Mentor Connections page or email our VP of Mentorship and Professional Development.