Collaboration breeds success. Most professionals will attribute their professional development to one or more mentors who coached them in their formative years. Because this interaction is so crucial, it’s important to consider for a moment what makes mentorship work. Personally, I follow these six rules when interacting with my mentees:
- Be transparent– If a young man or woman approaches you looking for advice, be very clear about the limits of your expertise. Pretending to know something when you don’t can undermine your mentee and breed resentment. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know something.
- Learn with your mentee– While you aren’t expected to know everything, there’s no reason not to keep learning. Young mentees are an excellent reflection of the future of your industry. If they need to know it, you should too.
- Offer support– The key to errors is learning from them. A young professional who makes a mistake deserves the chance to talk about them at length without judgement. Be approachable, hear them out, and offer direct, candid advice without crushing their confidence. Aim to be the positive conclusion to a negative situation.
- Don’t do the work for them– Let’s be clear—the mentee benefits more than the mentor. If a young professional chooses to neglect you as a resource, let them. Don’t waste your time advocating your usefulness or maintaining contact for them.
- Don’t expect anything in return– Accepting a free cup of coffee or holiday card is fine, but a mentor doesn’t expect compensation for his or her advice and support.
- Be patient– Learning is a lifelong process. You may have to repeat yourself or explain things that seem simple to you. Remember you have been in your industry a long time, and you were sought out for your expertise. Don’t let a mentee’s lack of knowledge frustrate you.
Business people aren’t known for being nurturing. Mentorship is a rare opportunity to be selfless toward another professional. In the end, you will have generated an excellent prospect that might change your industry.
This is a post from William Evanson, Senior Corporate Director at Pocket Nurse.