Having a mentor is one of the most important relationships you can have in your career. Once a mentoring relationship has been established, you will grow, not only in specific areas you've identified, but also in ways unexpected and long after your relationship may have ended. To increase your chances of having a successful experience, avoid these common errors mentorees often make in their initial meetings with their mentor.
You lack focus on what you want to work on in your mentoring relationship.
Since a mentoring relationship is focused on you, the mentor can't be the one to determine what you need. It's your career, so come prepared with specific ideas on why you need a mentor. Don't just say you want to develop leadership or management skills. Instead, specify the skill you want to develop: i.e., how to deal with difficult personalities/employees, how to read financial data and interpret how that impacts my department, etc. This gives your mentor information to ask questions to fine-tune how they can be helpful.
You expect your mentor to provide you with the map.
Although mentors are wise and experienced, they don't necessarily have the answers or the complete path you should follow. Even if the path you want to follow is similar to theirs, what worked for them may not necessarily work for you. Instead, look at your mentor as a facilitator who will share the responsibility with you to help you find the correct path for you while maintaining your own uniqueness. This means they will ask questions, listen to your challenges, provide possible thoughts on how to resolve issues and proceed. Ultimately, though, your mentor will support the decisions you make as opposed to your taking their advice in every situation.
You expect your mentor to manage the relationship.
In deference to your mentor's experience and wisdom, you may believe that it is your mentor who will actually control this relationship. Not true. You are the one who drives this relationship. How? By sharing your goals, your aspirations, your challenges, your successes, your doubts, etc. This means sharing the real issues that impact your success.
A mentors’ role is to respond to issues in ways that help guide and challenge you beyond what you think you can accomplish. Tweet this!
The areas in which you want to go and the pace you want to follow in that growth rests with you. A mentor cannot make you do what you don't want to do. You are always the one in control of your own destiny, even in mentoring.
For more information on how to prepare for your mentoring relationship, check out our latest eBook Mentoring Readiness: Instrument for Mentorees: