“There are two ways to acquire wisdom; you can either buy it or borrow it.” Benjamin Franklin
I read an excellent article from Brian Tracy a number of years ago called The Value of Mentors which appeared on the CPSA website (Canadian Professional Sales Association). The focus of the article was on the mentee, and gave a number steps that a mentee can do in order to take full advantage of mentors.
I have had mixed success as a mentor, and while some people will say I have helped them in their career, there have been a number of occasions where I felt I had provided very little value and in fact the experience had been a waste of my time and their time.
Given all of the above I certainly can’t profess to be a great mentor, but I can share some of the lessons I have learned, the hard way:
- Put the emphasis on the mentee. They need to do the work of deciding where they need help.
- Have a formal agenda, ahead of time, for any meeting.
- Don’t wing it … know the topics for discussion ahead of time.
- It is OK to let the conversation wander, after the agenda is done.
- The concept of a mentor/mentee relationship is often very attractive, but there is a lot of work involved … don’t commit to the relationship if both parties are not willing to commit to the work!
Informal chats with people can bring value, but it can equally be a waste of time. My advice to anyone considering being a mentor is to ensure the mentee is prepared well (Brian Tracy’s article is a good place for them to start.
“For every one of us that succeeds, it is because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.” Oprah Winfrey
I will reiterate that there is much to be gained from having a mentor and in being a mentor. The effort is worth the result, but without the effort it is very likely to be another conversation with little value.
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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