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5 Key Steps To Creating An Effective Mentor-Mentee Relationship

5 Key Steps To Creating An Effective Mentor-Mentee Relationship

In last week’s blog, we talked about why strategic alliances are useful to help you progress your career. This week we turn the spotlight on how to get the most out of your mentor-mentee relationship so that it inspires both of you, and gets results.

Elevate Talent has recently attended the launch of the BeyondMentoring programme at Women on the Wharf, a fantastic London cross company initiative by Di Black, Sam Cooper-Gray, Sheila Dunk and Catherine Flower.  It’s hoped the cross-company scheme will support career progression by creating new opportunities for women to forge a mentor-mentee relationship.

The term mentoring has been described by American politician John C. Crosby (co-founder of the Uncommon Individual Foundation) as offering: “A brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

As you can tell from his quote, mentoring can be a powerful catalyst to help you advance in the workplace. However, I’ve worked with coaching clients who have experienced such disappointing relationships with their mentor that they want to ditch them altogether. 

You need to put the right foundation and agreement in place to get the most out of your partnership. By the end of this blog, you’ll know exactly what you need to do, and why.

Creating a fruitful mentor-mentee relationship

Conventional wisdom tells us there are four steps to managing any important relationship, and the mentor-mentee relationship is no exception. You need to:

  1. Define the arrangement.
  2. Set an end metric.
  3. Seek common ground.
  4. Agree on a formal structure.

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, you’ll know that we love to use easy-to-remember acronyms; and since 2022 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger, we thought it was fitting to harness its courage and bravery.

Here are five ways to create a positive mentor-mentee relationship that gets results:

T – trust
I – invest
G – goals
E – expectation
R – results

T – trust

It’s important to agree on boundaries from the outset. This might include maintaining confidentiality, entering each mentoring session with an open mind, being compassionate, and being available to see situations from a new perspective.

I – invest

Whether you are the mentor or the mentee, you are investing time and energy into the partnership. To get the most out of it, make your time together free from outside distraction: block out your time so you’re not interrupted. 

You need to invest in each other in order to build respect and trust. A strong mentor will give inspirational and motivational feedback to help the mentee get out of their comfort zone, and will communicate in a way that strikes a chord (see this blog on How Negative Feedback Can Help Boost Your Career). The mentee will benefit from awareness around their strengths, weaknesses, and potential areas of neglect. This insight will also help the mentor to give the greatest support. 

G – goals

All effective partnerships are based on clear goals. As a mentee, you need to know what you want and why, so that you both have clarity and you can use your mentor as a sounding board. With clear goals in place, you are in a better position to focus on devising and implementing a strategy to progress them (see this blog on goal setting and this one on why strategic alliances are useful). 

E – expectation

No mentor is a magic wand! They have not agreed to overhaul your career, nor could they even if they tried! Mutual respect will come from the mentee understanding that the mentor does not have all the answers, and that they will challenge you to be more resourceful. Neither one of you needs to feel threatened or defensive.

Your mentor will help you identify the gaps in your existing strategy (if you have one!), and support you to move forward; they cannot do the work for you.

R – results

You need to define the desired results from the beginning of your mentor-mentee relationship. By doing so, you can set progress metrics: a series of milestones you intend to reach along the way. This supports you to build confidence and celebrate mini successes. It also increases your dopamine feel-good hormones and reinforces the power of your professional relationship. 

Ongoing career progression: the Elevate Talent developmental journey

Even if you have been mentoring or mentored for a while, Elevate Talent is a strong advocate of continuously reviewing  processes to ensure that you are maximising opportunity.

It’s helpful to check these three steps each month:

  • What: what knowledge and information do you already have to help you in your career progression? What reinforcement do you need?
  • Why: why does your career progression matter to you?
  • How: how will you progress your career? What’s the strategy and what are the tactics? Make it easy to remember (we got great feedback about how easy the TIGER acronym is to remember) and keep taking action!

I hope you’ve found this blog a useful insight into how to get the most out of your mentor or mentee. We’re passionate about supporting women in mid-level positions to progress their career in whatever way best suits them and their objectives. Get in touch if you’d like more information.

P.S.  Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter if you’d love to get involved!