A mentoring program is a relationship in which an experienced mentor shares knowledge with less-experienced people to help them grow and succeed professionally. Mentors provide advice and guidance to their mentees on a variety of topics like career goals, professional development, and networking for instance. They also provide support and encouragement during difficult times.
97% of the people who have a mentor say that they are valuable according to Sage. Let’s see why mentoring can make a difference for your organization and how it works.
Why A Mentoring Program Is Good For Everyone
Mentoring programs are beneficial for both mentors and mentees because they provide a sense of community and shared experience for both parties involved in the program.
It offers the opportunity to mentees to learn from their mentors, develop their network and grow alongside someone they probably wouldn’t have talked to without a mentoring program. It’s also beneficial for mentors who learn how to better share their knowledge, question themselves about their work, and broaden their vision.
Within a company, it can help new employees to feel more connected to their colleagues and get up to speed more easily. I’m convinced that being mentored by a coworker during your onboarding process can power your sense of belonging and give you a positive feeling about your company. It’s a great recruiting tool and gives you the opportunity to ask questions without being scared of distracting your colleagues.
If you’re a student or a startup founder, having a mentor is also a great idea. It can help you define goals – for your future career or your startup – and how to achieve them. It’s also a great way to broaden your network and bring new opportunities in.
Finding The Right Mentor For You
Finding the right mentor is not an easy task. It takes time, research, and effort. The first step in finding your perfect mentor is to do your research. Mentors and mentees can be matched by the company, industry, company size, or shared interest.
I recommend you to look for someone who has skills that you want to learn. It’s also important to find someone who has the same values as you do and has the same goal in mind as well. You should also feel comfortable with them and have a sense of trust with them.
Once you have found someone who might be a good fit for you, ask them if they are available to mentor you by sending them a cold email that is well customized. You can also ask your network for recommendations or use Lounjee’s matchmaking tool to find the right mentor.
How To Be A Great Mentor
Don’t try to fix all your problems in one single session. If your mentee prepares your meetings as I suggested above, they might come up with a long list of questions for you. I’ve been there as I’ve been mentored during my studies. I had a 1-hour meeting every other week with my mentor who would help me with my projects. Sometimes I would work on different projects at the same time and I would come up with too many questions. So I had to prioritize what was really important to tackle and set other questions aside for our next session. Identify the key areas where your mentee needs help and find a topic to focus on for the ongoing meeting. You don’t need to address all your pending issues at once. If you try to do so, your meeting will probably last longer than expected or you won’t have time to give deep answers that actually apply to your mentee’s unique situation. My recommendation is to concentrate on what’s coming up this week and/or the following week and keep the other problems for later. Educate your mentee to prepare a realistic set of questions that you have time to answer during the following session.
Build a relationship based on trust. Make sure you are honest and transparent. This actually applies both to mentors and mentees. By being their true self, your mentee may feel a bit vulnerable but it’s the best way for you to understand who they are and give them the best advice. On the contrary, if they keep information to themselves, you could be frustrated and give tips that are not applicable to their unique situation by lack of info. So be friendly, have an open attitude, and don’t be afraid to switch mentees if you are not 100% comfortable with yours.
How To Be A Great Mentee
Give back to your mentor. It’s not because you are less experienced than them that you cannot be helpful. Ask them questions about their own job and/or goals. Maybe you can introduce them to someone who could help or give them a referral. It’s always good to have another pair of fresh eyes looking at your situation! Moreover, it will reinforce your relationship with your mentor and give them energy back.
Ask your mentor to check your blind spots. Thanks to their experience and their vantage point, your mentor is able to see things you probably don’t. So get the most out of their unique position. They can point out what you’re doing well and what you’re missing. Your mentor is also here to help you identify opportunities you would have never seen on your own.
Always make sure to have more than one mentor. It’s important to confront ideas and points of view. Moreover, you may need to talk about different aspects of your job and you would certainly benefit from having different mentors that are experienced in each domain.
How To Take Part In A Mentoring Program
A mentoring program can be conducted in person or virtually. It’s up to you to decide what format suits you best. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s not always easy to meet in person, so you can also think about a hybrid collaboration. Read our article about online collaboration tools to find out the best tools you can use to work remotely with your mentor.
One very important thing is to make sure you have regular meetings with your mentor or mentee. These meetings don’t need to happen every week on the same day at the same time. But it’s important to keep a regular schedule so that both mentor and mentee can prepare in advance. That way, meetings will be more productive and you will know which issue you need to address.
You should also measure progress at the beginning of every meeting. Start the meeting by talking about the progress that has been made since the last meeting. If you set any goals, did you reach them? If not, identify why and if there’s anything preventing you from moving forward. Dedicate a few minutes at the end of the meeting to set the next steps, with concrete actions and goals that will be measured next time.
If you have ever been mentored, I’d be curious to know how it went. Please leave a comment below to tell me about your mentoring experience and share some recommendations!