If you are a part of the NextGen Leadership Program, your mentorship just kicked off and you have probably found yourself wondering what steps you need to take to start your mentorship off right. How often should we meet? How do we get around communication road blocks? Do I need to have something prepared for our first meeting? The list of questions can go on and on.
Fortunately, this week’s NextGen Leadership post brings you a few key steps to ensure you start your new mentorship relationship off on the right foot.
- Know your goals ahead of time. Before you walk into your first meeting with your mentor you should be able to articulate why you want to be in a mentoring relationship, what you want to get out of the relationship and an overall sense of what you want your next steps in your career to be. Even though you may refine your goals and your plan to reach them once you start talking to your mentor, having a rough outline of what you want to accomplish before you meet them allows you to create a more effective roadmap for the relationship.
- Have realistic expectations. While your mentor is there to help you develop professionally, a single mentorship is not designed to instantly satisfy all your career and professional needs. However, the more specific you are when asking for advice on your skill sets, ideas, plans and goals, the more accurate feedback your mentor will be able to give you. Additionally, stay focused and be aware of time and travel constraints. Your mentor is there for you, but you should be respectful of their time and not expect them to go out of their way to accommodate you.
- Be curious. If you’re like me, it can be hard to admit that you don’t know everything in your field and may need the help and guidance of a mentor. It’s important to check that feeling at the door of your new relationship and to instead go in with a sense of curiosity. When you are more eager to learn from your mentor, the more proactive you will be about heeding their advice and looking even deeper for answer to your professional development questions. Additionally, curiosity can facilitate you seeking out additional materials that can help you make your mentoring relationship even more successful.
- Don’t treat your mentor like your therapist. A mentorship is a professional relationship designed to help you thrive in your current career and give you the tools you need to take it to the next step. While this may include talking about hopes, aspirations and fears, make sure these conversations are focused on professional challenges and explore options for overcoming them. While you may get to the point where you can discuss things that are more personal in nature with your mentor, stick to professional development topics at the beginning.
Got some mentorship relationship tips we didn’t mention? Throw them in the comments! Additionally, for more information on all things professional development, check out all of the NextGen Leadership program’s blogs here.