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Tending the Mentoring Relationship

Posted on : 11-07-2012 | By : Cathy | In : Uncategorized


It’s important to be clear on your mentoring goals before proposing a mentor relationship with the person you’ve chosen. Mentors are usually interested in giving back to their community and/or they want to mentor in order to develop skills as a teacher, manager, strategist or consultant. But be considerate about your mentor’s time. In fact, be considerate, period. Remember the adage that you get what you give. Buy your mentor some tea or pick up the lunch tab. Send her information she might consider useful for a pet project or offer help or services. Say thank you. Here are some other tips for working with a mentor.

Come prepared to your meeting. Take notes, develop action steps and review both before your next meeting.

Be clear about what you’re doing and what you need. Keep to one or two specific, well-thought-out questions, and ask them clearly.

Spend most of your time listening. You’ll get the most out of your mentor if you don’t engage in “Why I can’t do that” conversations. You are not obligated to put any of your mentor’s suggestions into action, so just listen.

Be personal. Don’t spend all your time picking your mentor’s brain. Make your time with your mentor a conversation rather than a grilling. Be curious about your mentor’s life. Don’t idolize him or her.

Be real. You won’t learn a fraction of what you could if you’re trying to impress or skimming over problems.


Think for yourself. No mentor wants to figure everything out for you. Mentors should serve the role of guide, not parent.

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