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Advice for Mentees 

Get the Most Out of Your Mentoring Relationship This Year

We may not have entered 2021 with the usual vigour of a new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set ourselves some personal goals, work on our career development, and look ahead with positivity!

January is National Mentoring Month, which is why it’s the perfect time to focus on your mentoring relationships and what you want to get out of them.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a mentoring relationship already, that is the perfect place to start focusing on your personal development. If you’ve not got round to connecting with a mentor or mentee yet, here’s why you should be making it a top January priority:

Why Mentoring?

Both mentees and mentors experience the following benefits from a good mentoring relationship:

  • Increased self-confidence

Whether you’re sharing your knowledge or being inspired, mentoring sessions have a hugely positive impact on self confidence and assurance.

  • Increased self-awareness

Mentoring involves a lot of self-reflection, on both sides of the relationship. When diving into conversations around strengths, challenges and goals, you naturally learn a lot about yourself. This knowledge is invaluable in all aspects of life, not only your career.

  • Improved mental health

It’s hugely beneficial having somebody to talk to who’s outside of a typical management or friendship structure. Studies have shown that those with mentors experience less stress and anxiety, feel more positive about the future, and less isolated than those without. Similarly, mentors themselves experience a higher sense of meaning in their work, which in turn has a positive impact on their mental health. This is particularly important right now, as many people are suffering from the effects of national lockdown and Covid-19.

  • Leadership skills

Many of the traits of a good leader – communication, empathy, emotional intelligence – can be developed during mentoring sessions. Everything from asking the right questions, to delivering feedback, to learning how another person works and communicates. For anyone managing people or hoping to manage people in the future, consider mentoring a free learning opportunity.

  • Growing your personal network

The power of a good personal network is unquestionable. You never know when you might benefit from knowing a wide range of people. Not only does mentoring introduce you to new people you’d never have the opportunity to meet, your mentor / mentee can also introduce you to people in their network.

mentoring relationship: two women sit opposite each other talking

What next?

We know that all sounds very appealing – but sometimes the hardest step is the first one.

Here’s how you can reap these benefits in 2021 by committing to a mentoring relationship:

If you’re a Guider user…

Mentees:
  • Think about your 2021 goals

Our goals frequently change depending what’s happening in our careers and lives at the time we set them. Your goals and priorities may well have changed since you signed up to Guider. Take a bit of time to reassess what you want to achieve in the next quarter, six months, or year.

  • Reach out to any existing mentors

If you connected with any mentors on the platform last year, reach out to them with a fresh message explaining what you’d like to achieve and how they might be able to support you. Take ownership of the relationship by suggesting a time to meet and some things to discuss. See this as an opportunity to re-engage your mentor – get them to buy into your goals and want to support you!

  • Reach out to some new potential mentors

Perhaps some mentors you reached out to didn’t respond or weren’t a right fit. Don’t let that dishearten you. Make it a new year goal to reach out to some new potential mentors on Guider. Update your development areas and customise your outreach messages. Show your personality and try to explain why you have chosen that particular mentor to support you.

Guider mentoring software: an example mentor profile bio
Mentors:
  • Check your current mentoring requests

If you’re committed to supporting somebody with their career development this year, make sure you check any existing mentoring requests in Guider! It may have been a while since you logged into the platform, if that’s the case there might be mentees waiting to hear from you. Log back in, read their profiles and messages, and ping them a response.

  • Catch up with your mentee

Typically the responsibility of a mentoring relationship lies with the mentee – they’re usually the people who reach out first, book sessions and lead the conversation. However, sometimes life gets in the way (particularly during lockdown) and your mentee might not have reached out for a while. Here’s an occasion you can take the reins and try to reignite the relationship. Kick off the new year right and arrange a catch up with your mentee.

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If you’re not a Guider user…

If you’re here to find out more about getting the most out of mentoring, but your organisation is not using Guider, don’t worry! We also have some top tips for you to get the most out of mentoring in 2021:

Talk to your organisation about mentoring and find out what initiatives they currently offer. HR, Learning & Development, and Talent teams are typically the best people to contact about mentoring.

If you have any questions for Guider, don’t hesitate to get in touch below

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Advice for Mentees 

How to Run a Productive Mentoring Session

Mentoring sessions are the meetings between mentor and mentee, where the advice, knowledge sharing, and problem solving all takes place.

These sessions may only take place every month or so, and there’s a lot to discuss. It’s therefore important for mentoring sessions to follow a structure, to ensure they stay productive and valuable for both parties.

A mentoring relationship is a two-way process. While a good mentee is commonly expected to drive the session, it’s important for both people to be aligned on how the meetings are structured. It’s easy to pass the time of mentoring sessions talking about different issues and topics, sharing experiences, and generally getting to know one another better. However, the purpose of mentoring is to facilitate someone’s growth and see their progress. By structuring mentoring sessions, both mentor and mentee are more likely to follow up on actions, feel comfortable raising any issues, and keep the conversation focused!

How do you structure a mentoring session?

Every mentoring relationship is different, but there will typically be goals set at the beginning that the mentee wants to achieve. The mentoring will be helping them get to where they want to be, while also developing skills such as self-awareness, confidence, and good communication.

In each mentoring session, it’s important that the discussions, challenges, and solutions raised are all contributing to the mentee’s overall goals, to ensure progress is being made. There are simple things both mentor and mentee can do before, during and after they meet to ensure a productive mentoring session.

The day before a mentoring session:

  • Mentee sends over a session agenda including their desired discussion areas, outline of current challenges, key progress updates, and any leftover actions from the last session.
  • If relevant, the mentor can add any topics or points to the agenda and send it back, so that everyone is aware of the key focuses beforehand.

This helps with preparation, prioritisation, and managing expectations. For example, if a mentor sees on the agenda that their mentee has a new challenge since they last met, the mentor can think about it and come ready with ideas, rather than it being raised during the session when there’s already a lot to discuss.

During the mentoring session:

  1. Check in – while the aim of structuring a session is to be as productive as possible, mentoring is ultimately about human connection, so it’s good to allow a bit of time to catch up informally at the beginning of a session! Everyone will feel more comfortable.
  2. Decide on a main focus – based on the discussion areas and challenges the mentee featured on their agenda, both parties can decide on a main focus for the session. This could be outcome based, such as coming up with a plan, or exploration based, such as considering a new approach or reviewing something that hasn’t worked.
  3. Review actions from last session – before the discussion of any new topics, the mentoring pair should review any actions or ‘homework’ from the last session. Note: the mentor should not ‘tell off’ their mentee if they didn’t do something they said they would; mentoring is not a teacher / student or parent / child relationship dynamic. Rather, it should be an open and proactive discussion where they can mutually explore why an action was not completed, and decide together whether it’s still a valuable action. This is also a good time to update each other on any progress, such as: “I spoke with my friend Kate in Business Development and she’d be happy to go for a coffee with you, I think you’ll gain a lot from her experience coming from retail like you”.
  4. Explore challenges – based on the agenda, the pair can then explore the challenges the mentee is currently facing. At this point, the mentor can ensure the conversation is proactive and positive, with a focus on learning as opposed to failure or weakness. It’s important both parties keep in mind the agreed main focus of the session, and link any challenges back to it where possible to stay on track.
  5. Create a plan – off the back of the challenge discussion, it’s likely they’ll have begun to explore a number of solutions. Mentoring sessions can easily turn into hour long brainstorming without following a structure, so in order to be productive, they can then establish a plan that tackles the discussed challenges.
  6. Reflect on progress – near the end of the mentoring session, it’s important to reflect on the progress the mentee has made. This could be through the discussion of key learnings, celebrating wins, and feedback.
  7. Actions for next session – before the session concludes, an actions list should be created of things to do before the next session, which align with the mentee’s goals. The act of doing this makes both mentee and mentor accountable.
  8. Book next session – in order to maintain momentum, it’s always good to book in your next session at the end!

Naturally, every mentoring session will vary, and that’s not a bad thing! But having a structure in place will increase the likelihood of making progress, as well as knowing there’s always a dedicated opportunity to raise certain things.

After the mentoring session:

  • Mentee sends a follow up with the key takeaways from the session, the list of actions, and the details of the next session.
  • Mentor can respond with any relevant information or links to resources that were discussed in the session that may help the mentee.

It’s always good to follow up when the session is still fresh in mind, to avoid dropping the ball on anything that was agreed to.

And that’s how to run a productive mentoring session! Good luck.

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Advice for Mentees 

How to Be a Good Mentee: Guider’s Top Tips

So you’ve got yourself a mentor – congratulations! Mentoring has the power to do wonders for your professional and personal development, from self-confidence to career progression, the benefits are endless. But they don’t come without hard work and dedication to your goals and growth.

A common misconception about mentoring is that your mentor will tell you what to do and drive the sessions. When in fact, the best mentees take responsibility for the relationship and remember that the more they put in, the more they will get out.

From working with thousands of mentees at Guider, we’ve learnt a thing or two about successful mentoring relationships. So here are our top tips on how to be a good mentee…

1. Always come prepared

This is crucial as it reflects your dedication to the mentoring relationship and your personal development. Good mentees will have really considered why they want a mentor, and have an idea of what they’re hoping to gain from it. This means they start the relationship on the right foot, and can keep track of their progress.

Put some time into preparing this before your first session so you’re ready to discuss it articulately when you meet. Present your goals and be clear about what areas you need help with. This is also a good opportunity to bring up any expectations you have about the mentoring process and how it will work. Having this prepared will leave a great first impression, and mean you really hit the ground running.

Being prepared also applies to all future mentoring sessions. Prior to meeting, ensure you’ve put some time aside to prepare discussion topics or questions. This not only shows your mentor that you’re dedicated to making progress, but also ensures the sessions are as productive as possible.

 If you want to be a really good mentee, prepare an agenda. Come up with 2-3 discussion topics or questions that you would like to cover in your mentoring session before you meet. Email this to your mentor in advance to help guide the meeting and give them an expectation of what you’d like to focus on.

Find out more about how to keep your mentoring sessions productive in our guide

2. Ask insightful questions

Good mentees are curious. While it’s tempting to talk about yourself and your challenges for most of the session, remember that you can learn a lot from hearing about others’ experiences. Mastering the art of asking good questions is also a great leadership quality, your mentoring sessions are a perfect time to start honing your communication skills.

Another way you can prepare for a good mentoring session is to think of some insightful questions beforehand. Here are a few examples of questions that we recommend to get you started:

  • “What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned, and how is it valuable?”
  • “Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult boss? How did you handle it?
  • “How did you build the skills of speaking so engagingly in front of others?”
  • “How can I become better at managing people who do not report to me?”
  • “How did you learn to embrace failure?”

Naturally as you’re chatting to your mentor, these questions may come up. But it’s always handy to have a batch of questions to hand that could lead to some insightful conversations and life lessons.

3. Create an action plan (and act on it)

Be proactive! Make sure you are taking notes at every mentoring session so you can create an action plan to hit your goals. Your mentor may help with this, but you should be the one driving it.

Write yourself a list of actions before the end of every session. By running these actions by your mentor, you’re inviting them to hold you accountable (which means they’re more likely to get done).

A Gartner 2006 study found that:

‘Participants are 40% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down. This increases to 70% if the goals are shared with someone to keep them accountable, such as a mentor.’

This not only helps provide focus for the time in between sessions, but also ensures you don’t forget what you said you’d do. With mentoring being a voluntary relationship alongside our day to day jobs, it can often be de-prioritised and lose momentum. If you’ve told your mentor you’re going to do something, and then you turn up to the next session and haven’t thought about it since the month before, you’re going to make little progress and the relationship could even drop off. Keeping an action list helps you stay on track and moving in the right direction.

If your mentor opens doors for you, make sure you sprint through them. By introducing you to people in their network, they are personally vouching for you and your abilities. Don’t tarnish that by being reactive or slow to respond.

4. Reflect and ask for feedback

At the beginning of every session, reflect on your accomplishments so far and share any learnings with your mentor. There’s nothing more rewarding for a mentor than seeing their advice come into practice and you growing as a result of it, so make sure to keep them in the loop with your progress. It’s also nice to show your appreciation by sending your mentor a thank you message, or getting a coffee if you’re meeting in person!

Another way to be a good mentee is not only being open to feedback, but actively asking for it. Asking for feedback shows a hunger to learn and improve, which is a stand out characteristic of a good mentee.

Try open ended questions on a specific topic, such as:

  • “Which parts of my approach to teamwork concern you the most?”
  • “What do you think is working and not working in my pitch?”
  • “What could I do differently that would have the greatest impact on my success?”

Remember to not take negative feedback personally. Rather, see it as a personal challenge to improve!

5. Be the driver and always follow up

Your mentoring relationship is about you achieving your goals, so don’t expect your mentor to drive it. You need to take responsibility for your development and you’ll get out what you put in!

Make sure to always log notes from your meetings and follow up immediately after with a summary of the session, a list of your actions and any ways they can support you. As well as this, always lead on booking in your next session with your mentor.

Never end a mentoring session without booking in the next one to keep up momentum.

——–

⭐️  Some other tips to keep in mind to be a good mentee: ⭐️

  • A mentor is not a therapist – try to avoid conversations that veer away from your goals or objectives.
  • Common traits of successful mentees include being: enthusiastic, energetic, organised, self-aware and focused.
  • Appreciate your mentor’s time! Avoid sending emails with long winding questions, and instead, frame questions in a way that makes it easy for them to provide feedback on.
  • Everything you say is entirely confidential, and your mentor knows that too! Try and be as open as possible, as trust between you and your mentor will need to be developed and nurtured.

Good luck!

Categories
Advice for Mentees 

How to Find a Great Mentor

Finding a mentor can have a profound, positive impact on your career development and well-being at work. Yet many people feel daunted by the process of finding a mentor. That’s where Guider is here to help.

We’re constantly being told by TED Talks, life coaches, career advice blogs and entrepreneurs to find a mentor.

Mentoring has received celebrity endorsements from the likes of Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey and many more.

A mentor is someone who can guide, advise, and support you to achieve your goals and progress in your professional and personal life.

Sounds nice right?

But there’s something about the way the media discusses mentoring that makes it sound rather unattainable, or reserved for the lucky few who were in the right place at the right time.

On top of that, even if you have identified someone you’d like to be mentored by, it’s naturally quite intimidating to approach them and ask for their help.

So how do you find a mentor?

From working with hundreds of mentors and mentees at Guider, we’re experts in what makes the perfect mentoring relationship.

Here are our top tips for finding a life changing mentor:

1. Think about what you want to achieve

First thing’s first, why do you want a mentor?

Obviously support and guidance is nice, but what do you actually want to improve or achieve? What goals are you working towards?

Try and write down the answers to these questions before you even think about finding a mentor. This exercise of self-awareness will highlight the areas you want to work on, which will help when it comes to finding a person to help you get there.

Common reasons people find a mentor:

  • To get career direction
  • To learn from someone who has ‘been there and done it’
  • To get support in a specific area
  • To build their network
  • To get career support
  • To work towards a promotion

Whether it’s learning to manage people for the first time, or growing your confidence with public speaking, having a mentor to guide and advise you has a considerable impact.

2. Attract a mentor by taking ownership

Finding a mentor can feel like you’re asking for a lot. You’re asking somebody to give up their time, for free, to help you. It’s easy to feel slightly powerless in this dynamic, as you’re wholly dependent on the generosity of others.

However, this is not a good position to find a mentor from. Instead, you must be hungry to learn and committed to your own success. Your personal and career development doesn’t start when you get a mentor, that’s something you have to own and the mentoring will follow more naturally.

Be the person that somebody wants to mentor. Make a conscious effort to know exactly what you want, put yourself out there, and work hard to attract this high-level help and support.

Check out our tips for taking responsibility for your personal development

3. Assess your current network

It’s tempting to ask a stranger to be your mentor, whether in a desire to reinvent yourself or start your relationship without any preconceptions. However, the challenge of getting a stranger to mentor you is far greater (and more daunting) than somebody who already knows you.

Start by thinking of people you know and admire. These people will already know your personality and will hopefully be more invested in your development.

Remember, your request for mentorship is going to be received much more favourably if that person already knows and respects you.

4. Don’t ask someone outright

If you do have a stranger in mind who you’re desperate to be mentored by (maybe you saw them talk at a conference, or follow them on Twitter) don’t ask them to be your mentor straight away.

No matter how persuasive your outreach might be, this person is likely very busy and desirable, so why would they help you?

What you can do instead is start engaging with them and their work. Share and comment on their updates on social media, attend events they’ll be at, start insightful conversations with them, help solve their problems. It’s essentially like putting in the groundwork towards mentorship.

You can’t expect a stranger to want to help you, but you can be proactive in making them not a stranger!

Take a look at our guide to being a great mentee to get prepared

5. Don’t get stuck on an ideal

If you have an image in mind of what your ideal mentor may be like, forget about it. It can be easy to get stuck waiting for a perfect person to come along that, in reality, doesn’t exist.

A great mentor is someone that inspires you, sparks ideas and is genuinely invested in the relationship. Remember, you may have several mentors throughout your career and so one person doesn’t need to be a perfect fit to be beneficial. You don’t want to miss out on a great mentor because they don’t fit the image you had in your head.

Stay open-minded. Focus on what you want to learn, who do you feel good speaking with, and what energy does someone have. You may be surprised!

6. Speak to HR or Learning & Development

If you’re having trouble knowing where to start with finding a mentor, speak to your company! Mentoring is becoming more and more commonplace within organisations, and it’s a fair thing to ask for in order to develop your skills and career aspirations. Your company may have its own mentoring program already, or be able to advise you with where to turn to if they don’t.

Guider is a mentoring software that businesses can use to run internal mentoring programs. Matching mentors and mentees via smart algorithms takes the difficulty of finding a mentor out of your hands. Speak to your organisation to see if this is something they could use.

 

7. Have an informal chat first

So you’ve got a person in mind that you think will be able to help you achieve your goals and progress in your career. Somebody to introduce you to new ideas and ways of thinking, challenge you, and guide you in the right direction.

Bear in mind, you still don’t know at this point if they will be a good mentor. So you don’t want to ask them to be your mentor straight away, because you could get 2 sessions in and realise you don’t get along, or they’re not as knowledgeable as you thought.

Instead, ask them for a coffee (or arrange a casual video call if they’re in a different location). Say you’d love to talk to them about a certain topic or their experience, and have some questions ready. This is your opportunity to figure out if they could be a good mentor for you, as well as impress them so that they’ll say yes when you actually ask them.

TIP: You want to leave this prospective meeting feeling inspired, excited, and potentially even better about yourself. If you didn’t feel good, perhaps they’re not the right person to mentor you. Don’t be so set on finding a mentor that you invest in the wrong relationship.

8. Actually ask them to be your mentor

If you found this meeting beneficial and you’d like this person to mentor you and enter a more formalised agreement / relationship, the only thing left to do is ask them.

It’s the part that people find most daunting, but really it’s the easiest bit. Just reach out and ask them if they’d like to mentor you. Specify the regularity you’re looking for to set expectations, what goals you are working towards, and any challenges you’re facing they could support with.

Remember to explain how you believe they can help you – a bit of ego flattery goes a long way!

Hopefully, if your meeting went well, it should be a resounding yes. People like helping people, generally.

9. Commit to the relationship

A good mentoring relationship takes dedication and effort from both parties. If you’ve managed to find a good mentor, make sure you put in the time to make it work!

Don’t always wait for your mentor to initiate meetings or targets, take the reins and make sure you achieve the goals you set out in the very beginning. And don’t forget to thank your mentor for their time. Showing gratitude is a sure-fire way to build a positive relationship with any mentor and best of all, it’s free!

And that’s how to find a great mentor! Good luck

More reading:

How To Be A Good Mentee

How To Run A Productive Mentoring Session

Infographic Source: Teach.com