Dear coach, I have a mentor and we have had a couple of nice catch-ups but now I am unsure as to what to address in my next session. Can you share tips on how to make the most out of my mentor?
In my last article I spoke about how to take the leap and ask someone to be your mentor, and if you’ve taken this first step on your mentoring journey, congratulations. Whether it’s honing specific skills or receiving career advice, having a mentor gives you the opportunity to choose your own adventure.
But too many mentoring relationships end awkwardly after two meetings. When you have finished asking them questions about their career and sharing your own long-term ambitions, it is not uncommon to lack inspiration for the next conversation.
Here is how to diagnose and bring life back into your mentoring partnership.
Step 1 – Establish trust and common expectations
Have you established a level of trust with your mentor that enables you to be completely open and vulnerable in your conversations? Are you both clear on the expectations of the partnership (time, frequency, number of sessions)?
If you have answered no to either question, you need to start here. Make sure you explicitly express to your mentor that you would like to work together for a defined period of time (say six months), that you would like them to help you achieve a tangible goal, and that you would like your conversations to remain confidential.
In order to increase the trust factor, you can also ask them questions that will enable them to be really open with you, so you are more comfortable doing the same.
Step 2 – Identify clear and measurable goals
Have you written down what you want to achieve with the help of your mentor? Have you shared this with them succinctly and specifically?
Setting goals can seem tedious and daunting but it is the most powerful way to grow. Start by answering this question: “What will I achieve with my mentor that I would not have otherwise achieved on my own?”. Share this with your mentor, and together you can clarify: “How will I feel, where will I be, what will I be proud of at the end of this year?” This will allow you to set aspirational but specific goals to tackle together in each session.
Step 3 – Take action in between sessions
Are you starting your mentoring meetings by reviewing how you have implemented the actions agreed to at the end of the previous session?
This is the secret to a successful and impactful mentoring partnership. This differentiates a series of coffee chats and true mentorship. You can do this by wrapping up each session with a commitment to taking one or two simple small actions to bring your session insights to life. These could be changes to the way you approach your responsibilities at work, or it could be reaching out to a senior leader for a networking conversation or it could be taking a lead role in the next big client pitch. These actions are defined together with your mentor in each session when discussing your goals and how to achieve them.
By following these three steps, you will find each mentoring session becomes like episodes of a TV series, when you can’t wait for the next one. You will also impress your mentor who will feel their time is being used in a meaningful way.