Being a Mentor with the Circuit is both a challenging and rewarding role within our organization. To get the most out of your relationship with your mentee, consider the following points:
One of your first conversations should include a discussion around your respective roles within a mentor/mentee relationship. Introduce yourself and answer any questions your mentee has about your career, professional strengths, and the mentoring process. Then, let your mentee know what you expect of them. This could include punctuality, cancellation notices, the preferred method of communication, mutual respect, preparedness for meetings. Lastly, explain how you’re (not) able to help them, such as coaching, teaching, making connections, etc.
Help Identify and Achieve Goals
It may be easy to guide your mentee in the direction you feel they should go, but the power of being a mentor is that you can allow your mentee the space to make their own decisions. Instead of telling them what to do, consider helping your mentee identify their goals, and make pathways to achieve them.
Take it a step further. Once you’ve determined the goals you’ll work toward, prioritize them! Come to an agreement on where you’ll start, how much time you’ll spend, and how deep of a dive you’ll go into each one.
Keep the Big Picture in Mind
The mission of The Circuit is to develop emerging leaders through mentorship, community engagement, and personal growth. As a Mentor, you’ll play a huge role in your mentee’s professional and leadership development. Be sure to keep the Circuit’s mission in mind as you meet with your mentee and align your conversations with the big picture.
It’s important to remember that mentorship with the Circuit is a learning process for everyone. Though our mentorships are designed to last for only one year, the insight you’re providing will last your mentee a lifetime. Keeping that top of mind, be sure your goals to cater to the mentee’s long-term development. That’s the big picture.
You Won’t Always Know the Answer
There will be situations that your mentee will experience that you never have had to. That’s okay! You don’t have to always have an answer or solution. This is a great opportunity to actively listen to the needs and concerns of your mentee and practice empathy. It’s possible that your mentee just needs to express what is on their mind and having you as a sounding board will allow them the space to come to a conclusion on their own.
So when you don’t know the right answer…
Ask the Right Questions
When a clear pathway isn’t defined (or even when it is), ask your mentee questions about their experiences and mindset. Be cognizant of your own biases or lenses and don’t make assumptions. Once you know how your mentee feels, you can meet them where they are. This opens the door for honest, relevant feedback that can help your mentee make decisions – which is the goal of a mentorship!
Even in a situation where you have no exact connection or experience, you can still share your story and mistakes. Just as your mentee is learning from their own professional vices, by virtue of your role, you can also impart the wisdom you’ve acquired from mistakes you’ve made.
Additionally, it’s likely that your mentee has or will experience some of the same challenges you’ve already overcome. If you can be authentic and open about your own learning experiences, you may be able to help your mentee through their current situations or prevent them from following the same path.
Lastly, the importance of being open to sharing failures, short-comings, and learning experiences is one of the most significant and invaluable aspects of being a mentor. Sharing personal (professional) stories with your mentee can help with problem-solving, trust-building, and creates a culture of vulnerability needed for eventual growth.
Ultimately, the best way to be a great mentor is to be patient and listen to the needs of your mentee. Mentoring is a mix of developing leadership skills, sharing knowledge, and providing counsel and insight. Just like all other things, the more you practice, the better you’ll be! Thank you for going on this journey with us.
Do you have 5-10 years of specific industry experience and are ready to be a mentor? Register online at www.wichitafallschamber.com/thecircuit/.