VOICE June 2015 - page 5

network. They may be working in the same organisation
as you, or they may be someone you have met in other
aspects of your life. They need to be considered a posi-
tive role model to you and I would say that they need to
be a good listener. Someone who comes to a Mentoring
meeting and talks predominately about themselves may
have some good stories to tell, but unless they first seek
to understand you, they are unlikely to offer the support
you need.
The Mentor/Mentee Relationship
Once you have identified your potential Mentor, then it is
simply a matter of asking them if they would consider a
Mentor/Mentee relationship. Most Mentors I know feel
privileged to be asked and will agree to it straightaway.
However, if there is initial reticence, it will likely be due
to concerns about the time commitment. It is your re-
sponsibility, as the Mentee, to reassure them of what is
involved. Here are a few suggestions of how you might
approach this:
Offer to do the organising. Agree that you will contact
them when you need a Mentoring meeting and assure
them that the meetings will only be 3 or 4 times a year.
Offer to go to them. Finding a location and environment
convenient for them helps with time management and
you are more likely to have a productive meeting.
Be clear on your objectives for Mentoring. For example,
let your Mentor know if you are seeking advice on your
job, or balancing work and life. This will help them to
have confidence that you are asking for support and ad-
vice in areas that they are familiar with.
Be prepared for Mentoring meetings. It may be useful to
give your Mentor an update of activities and
events since the last meeting. You may also con-
sider providing a short agenda to include the
areas you wish to talk about.
Agree the maximum length of time you are
asking them to be a Mentor for. I would rec-
ommend a year with a review after six
months. In my experience, Mentoring rela-
tionships that are set for a year give both
parties the full understanding that the rela-
tionship is finite. If the relationship is work-
ing after one year, often they are re-
contracted for another year. The key is that the relation-
ship needs to be valuable for both of you.
Whilst I wouldn’t suggest going as far as a formal Mentor-
ing agreement, it is my experience that Mentoring rela-
tionships which have a psychological contract are the
most successful. What I mean by this is that there is a
conversation at the beginning of a Mentoring relationship
which defines the relationship as formal, sets a time
frame and agrees some form of structure. So talking
through the 5 points above would start to develop that
psychological contract. In addition, agreeing the content
of the four statements below for both Mentor and Mentee
will also formalise this relationship and maximise poten-
tial success:
It is always beneficial to have a Mentor. Even for senior
leaders, who may find a peer Mentor is just as valuable as
a role model Mentor. This would likely be someone out-
side your sphere of influence who can listen to you, offer
support and advice if you ask for it and be non-
judgemental. The mutual support a Mentor offers can
certainly help improve the decision making at critical
points when you most need it. So, wherever you are in
your career, never be without a Mentor.
Be clear on your objectives for Men-
toring. For example, let your Mentor
know if you are seeking advice on
your job, or balancing work and life.
This will help them to have confi-
dence that you are asking for sup-
port and advice in areas that they are
familiar with.”
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I believe it is important to be
proactive about getting yourself a
Mentor early in your career and
learning how best to get the most
from the relationship by making it a
formal arrangement.”
By Karen Frost
Director of Operations at Values Based Leadership
1,2,3,4 6,7,8
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