5 Tips for Mentors from a Mentee’s Perspective
By Roxanne Leone, Director Marketing & Communications
Mentoring is a two way street. If you’ve already made your decision to become a mentor to a college student, a new employee or other aspiring professional, I would recommend you put yourself in their shoes to ensure you are filling their needs as well as your own. I’ve chosen the top 5 tips that helped my mentor and I be successful and grow my career.
- Assess your own skills.
Identify your skillset and which skills you feel your mentee would benefit most from. You don’t need to have experience with every skill your mentor may need – or want – but you must be willing to grow and learn with them.
Take time to analyze how you started in your own career and document the guidance that you found the most, and least, helpful to you as you moved up the corporate ladder.
- Set goals jointly.
It might seem like a small task, but setting up the logistics of when, where and how often you’ll connect is very important. My mentor put the needs of his sales department first, as most VP’s do, so our mentoring time was set weekly between 5:30-7:00 pm after sales were closed out for the day.
Set expectations for the mentoring relationship from the get-go. By understanding your mentee’s goals will show your commitment to the relationship and his or her professional development. A goal may be narrow in focus or on overall career progression.
For me, it was critical to get more comfortable in front of an audience. By being a more effective communicator I could strengthen my leadership skillset. I joined Toastmasters International, a local public speaking club, during evening hours and my mentor, also my manager, planned all of my corporate presentations first thing in the morning to lower my anxiety. I spent 2 years in the program and then became the founding member of a club within our own organization.
I’ve seen mentors so excited to help a mentee that they make decisions for the individual instead of listening to what they want. Sure it’s a difficult ask, but do your best to stop what you’re working on, focus and listen. And if you can meet outside your office and in a common area like a conference room that may work out best. The more you listen, the more you discover and your colleague may just surprise you.
My mentor chose to mentor me after we attended an industry trade show. He said his issue with me was that I was all business. But after a week on the road getting to know me on a personal level he felt I had the creativity, confidence and passion to drive my success.
- Be professional.
Trust and respect is of the utmost of importance to any professional relationship. It’s also critical to make your mentee feel safe and that what you choose to discuss will remain confidential. Both of you should have the comfort level to have dialogue to work through issues without passing judgement.
With my mentor’s 30 years of experience in the industry I was new to, he served as a role model with very high standards for professionalism in the workplace. I was also the second women to join a team of 30 white men. One of his management goals was diversity and inclusion and growing our staff to include more women and people of color.
- Share your network.
I think one of the most valuable things you can pass on to your mentee is your professional network. People across the globe are expected to communicate and build camaraderie to get the job done, and done well.
Working on a professional network takes years of practice and is always ongoing. To prepare your mentee for the long road ahead, introduce your mentee to relevant contacts that can be valuable resources for them today or in the future.
In addition, ensure your mentee participates in professional development programs such as the Intrapreneurship Academy (IA) to strengthen leadership skills and grow their network. The Cable Center’s IA Program has a robust training program suitable for people in the cable industry or any technology industry driving innovation.
One of the most worthwhile networking opportunities offered to me was managing my VP’s public relations interviews with the trade media. I was able to plan and attend speaking opportunities, professional meetings with the press, meals with high-level colleagues, customers and partners.
Keep your mentee’s interest at heart through laser-focused attention on opening doors of opportunity.