Having spoken about how to choose a mentor, why somebody should become a mentor and meeting your mentor for the first time, it’s now time to move your mentoring relation to a whole new level.
Your relation with your mentor or mentee is like any other important relationship. It’s built on trust, shared experiences, reciprocity, respecting boundaries and being genuinely interested in the other person. Eric Barker from Barking Up The Wrong Tree made some great suggestions on how to build trust in a relationship:
- Act with discretion. Keep secrets secret.
- Communicate often and well. The more you know about each other, the more you are willing to help each other.
- Match words and deeds. Remember all the promises you make and set realistic expectations so you can meet all of your commitments.
- Highlight knowledge domain boundaries. If you don’t know something, be willing to admit your lack of knowledge.
- Hold people accountable for trustworthy behavior. If someone does well, let them know. If they disappoint you, let them know because they will not respect you if you let them walk over you.
For a mentoring relationship to really blossom it has to evolve into an intimate relationship. It is a relation in which both parties are able to disclose their inner most thoughts and concerns, and where both mentor and mentee become interdependent. This of course can’t be hurried, although specific defining moments can certainly accelerate this process. Who doesn’t remember the bond that was created with your best friend when both of you went through that ‘once in a life time experience’.
Ellen Esher and Susan Murphy in their book: Power Mentoring, mention that to deepen the mentoring relationship you need to:
- Develop a deep understanding of each other’s work and issues
- Develop a mutual admiration
- Treat each others as confidants
- Be open to ideas
- Help each other focus on solving issues you can influence
- Create mutual wins
Not all mentoring relations end up in a powerful and highly successful partnership. Sometimes the chemistry or the intent is not there or simply the circumstances are not right. In those cases you have to have the guts to call it a day and move on. Maybe find another moment or maybe find another mentor. Don’t give up, the support you can get from a mentor makes it a worthwhile pursuit and hopefully at some time you can turn the tables and mentor others.
– Paul Keijzer
P.S. If you are interested in being mentored by me, send me a short email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the reasons why I should chose you as my mentee. I can’t promise I will choose you but I do promise I will respond!