Many of us can attribute at least some of our current levels of success to a colleague, manager, teacher or friend who took the time to help us along the way. That’s because mentoring works. In fact, Terri A. Scandura, a leadership expert and former dean of the University of Miami’s MBA program, says that up to 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. Owners and executives who implement these types of programs and encourage constructive mentoring relationships see higher levels of engagement, retention and productivity – all key factors for business success.
So, the question remains: how do I create an effective mentoring relationship?
Qualities of Good Mentors
Believe it or not, professional success isn’t a good indicator of whether someone will be a good mentor or not. There’s a broad range of skills and circumstances needed for mentoring success, and oftentimes, timing plays a bigger role than anything else when evaluating whether a mentoring relationship was productive or not.
Potential mentors should ask themselves:
- Do I have real interest in helping this person with no expectation of ROI?
- Do I have the time and availability to commit to this person?
- Are my skills and background going to be the right fit?
- Am I open to also learning during this process?
- Will I be able to be vulnerable enough to share my successes and failures?
- Do I have the coaching mentality and skills necessary to be a good mentor, including active listening skills and the ability to provide effective feedback?
Qualities of Good Mentees
Effective mentoring relationships rely on both parties to be ready, willing and able to engage fully, and the mentee must be committed to holding up his or her end of the bargain. After all, the mentor is being generous with his or her time and shouldn’t ever be left feeling like it was wasted.
Potential mentees should ask themselves:
- Do I have the ability to be committed to and focused on putting in the work?
- What are my goals and objectives, and how do I hope this person will help me achieve them?
- Do I have the ability and awareness to be vulnerable and ask for help?
- Am I prepared to hear feedback – even when it’s not glowing with praise?
- Am I ready and willing to learn both with my mentor and on my own?
- Can I be personally responsible and hold myself accountable without requiring hand-holding from my mentor?
- Will I be invested in and enthusiastic about developing the relationship?
- Do I have the time and energy to be consistent?
Qualities of Productive Mentoring Relationships
Whether it’s an informal partnership or a formal one, good mentoring relationships are built on a foundation of structure, defined expectations, purpose and appreciation. Here are some important elements to consider:
- Structure: Create a process for communications, meetings, check ins and progress assessments.
- Expectations: Discuss and agree upon aspects such as time, confidentiality, focus, growth and accountability.
- Purpose: Define both long-term and short-term goals, so you can both measure success.
- Reflection: Have evaluative conversations where you continue to develop your relationship and refine your processes.
And, of course, always take the time to appreciate each other’s efforts.
Learn More About Leadership Development with FocalPoint Canada
At FocalPoint Canada, we guide our clients in overcoming challenges and leveraging opportunities with proven processes and methodologies that have been used by thousands of successful businesses over the past two decades. Our FocalPoint business coaches use their expertise to teach our time-tested methods through individual coaching, group sessions, or trainings and workshops.