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Mentoring Success: Tips to Keep in Mind

You've probably heard about the importance of having mentors for the development of one’s career. 

Mentorship is a popular topic when discussing how to succeed as a young professional. Many professional forums, like NextGen, speak about the different facets of mentorship. Mentors serve as anchors, wisdom bearers and sometimes best friends, but these relationships aren’t always rosy. Mentorship requires commitment and a great deal of time and effort from both the mentor and the mentee to be successful. More importantly, how both parties handle the woes throughout the relationship will determine whether the mentorship bond will strengthen or sever.  In order to increase the chances of having a successful relationship, it’s important to keep these three tips in mind.

1. Mentoring is a Continuous Learning Experience

As a young professional myself, volunteering for Young Government Leaders (YGL), an organization focused on the concerns of young professionals in government, I think about mentoring constantly.  When Kevin Richman, YGL’s Chief Relationship Officer, and I chatted with YGL Advisory Board Member William “Bill” Spencer, I had the opportunity to reflect about mentoring from a different perspective.  We spoke in length about his experiences as a mentor, the reasons for his participation and the responsibilities of both mentors and mentees. All throughout the conversation though, Bill kept coming back to one general theme: mentoring is a learning experience. Successful mentoring relationships thrive on mutual learning. Mentees often learn a great deal about themselves simply by listening to their mentor’s life experiences. They take those same lessons and reflect on how they can be applied within their own lives. On the other hand, mentors take the different perspectives provided by their mentees to help themselves become better leaders and role models for their protégés. Therefore, it’s important to come into a mentoring relationship with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

2. Patience is a Virtue

Just like any other relationships, mentoring involves exercising patience. Having filled the shoes of both mentor and mentee, I can attest that one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from serving those two roles is the value of patience. As a mentor, it’s important to understand and accept that my actions and expectations ought to correspond accordingly to my mentee’s pace. As a mentee, the biggest challenge was not getting immediate feedback from my mentors. The thought of having to wait for days, even weeks, to hear back was at times, discouraging. However, a simple follow-up goes a long way and those basic tips regarding communicating more effectively will often get you what you need. Learn to be patient and you will get more from a mentoring experience.

3. The Best Mentors Are More Than Just Your Champions

To me, the best mentoring relationships are those that evolve from professional relationships to lifelong friendships. After all, the good ones are “not all about work,” according to a Business Insider article on “8 Tips on How to Find the Perfect Mentor.” All throughout the relationship, mentors will likely play the role of coach, therapist, and friend. That’s a major undertaking but because they want to give back, they take the time and effort to become more than just your champion. Their willingness to give the much needed emotional support in times of trouble shows their commitment to you and your relationship.  And because they’ve likely been through similar instances before, they will be able to provide guidance on ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

There’s no secret formula to having a great mentoring relationship but keeping in mind that each relationship is a product of continuous learning, requires a great deal of patience and has the possibility to develop into lifelong friendships are helpful tips to fostering mentoring success. A successful mentorship can help the mentor and the mentee grow as individuals as they face new challenges in their lives.

By Iris Alon, Managing Editor, Young Government Leaders

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Posted in Young Gov

Tags: Young Government Leaders, professional development, mentorship



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