3 Ways to Be a Great Mentee
As a young person in business, there is a lot to learn. I frequently say that I feel like I went to college twice with all the learning I’ve had during my years in the workforce. For us young professionals, most of the information we need to succeed gets taught on the job. An additional key piece is mentoring. Having a more experienced leader to learn from will help you in numerous ways. They can share insight, provide perspective and advice, open doors, and teach you the unwritten rules of business. There’s a reason so many successful executives cite having a mentor as a key piece of their success.
If you are lucky enough to have a mentor, appreciate them and use the tips below to enhance your relationship even more. If you don’t yet have a mentor, find one! Ask someone you admire to be your mentor; if you are direct and respectful, they’ll most likely say yes. Then use the tips below to get started on the right foot. I’m excited to share these tips in hopes that they will help another young person on their career journey. I still have plenty of growing to do, and below is what I’ve learned so far.
- Be Open. Being in a mentorship relationship isn’t effective if you are not open, willing to learn, and willing to do things differently. Part of learning includes doing things you don’t want to or getting feedback that is difficult to hear. It’s tough, but this is where the biggest growth happens. Part of a mentor’s job is to challenge you- especially when you don’t particularly want it. Remember that your mentor is on your team and only wants to see you succeed. Also be open when you disagree or share a different perspective as that conversation can lead to great learning for both of you.
- Be Humble. Confidence is key but being humble and acknowledging how much you still have to learn is crucial too. Being humble also means that no job is beneath you. If your mentor is within your company and you are getting the opportunity to learn, find ways to give back and contribute. This might mean taking out the trash or stocking the fridge; believe me, it will get noticed and pay off in the future. Share gratitude for your mentor and make sure to acknowledge them when others compliment you; it’s their teachings that are helping you stand out.
- Be Respectful. Be respectful of your mentor’s time. For leaders, their time is more valuable than money, so their willingness to meet with you is a large investment. Show your respect for this by connecting when it is convenient for them, arriving early, and coming prepared with questions or a scenario you’d like to discuss with them. As the mentee it’s your job to direct the meeting; don’t create extra work for your mentor when they’re already volunteering their wisdom and time.
Ideally the mentoring relationship is something you will both benefit from. Sharing your different thoughts and perspectives will cause you both to think differently and learn. As the mentee, focus on providing value in any way you can. Your mentor is giving you an incredible gift, and the way you show up and participate in the relationship should reflect that. If you keep that in mind, being open, humble and respectful will naturally follow. Cheers to maximizing success!