Training Industry Magazine - March/April 2017 - 9
NATASHA MILLER WILLIAMS
As a mentee, gaining insight from
someone with more experience is a
surefire way to reach your professional
goals quickly. But what do mentors get
out of it? What motivates them to devote
time and energy from their own careers
to help someone else?
For the mentor, the return on their
investment is their mentee's growth.
Great mentors value relationship
building and helping others learn from
their past experiences. Mentors take
pride in their protégés, considering
their mentee's success a reflection of
their own. The best mentees recognize
this and present themselves in a way to
make a mentor their greatest ally.
Bad mentees lack focus and initiative,
failing to listen or apply anything they
learn. Rather than thinking through what
they can get out of the relationship,
bad mentees approach mentoring like
a checklist: schedule a meeting, give an
update, ask a question, schedule the
next date. It becomes a transactional
experience, not a relational one. Ironically,
great mentors won't hesitate to ditch or
deprioritize a mentee who's not taking
advantage of the relationship.
So, how do you become the mentee
every mentor wants to invest in?
Here are five ways to increase your
1. SET CLEAR GOALS
What do you want out of the experience
and why do you need a mentor?
Articulate your objectives: both those
for your career, and those with your
mentor. If you're working with investors
on a product or service, you know your
long-term vision for the brand. In this
case, you're the brand, so make it clear
that you have a vision.
2. COME PREPARED
After establishing goals, prepare for
your first mentoring session by having
an agenda. Start each session saying,
"Here's what I hope we can accomplish
today." Your mentor will realize you
respect her time and will help you get
the most out of it. Time is your mentor's
capital. Don't waste it. Keep in mind,
don't be overly scripted, as some of
the most valuable feedback happens
on the fly.
Nothing is more frustrating than a
mentee who won't heed the mentor's
advice. After seeing you not following
suggestions, your mentor will become
frustrated. Demonstrate your active
listening by revisiting prior topics.
Expect your mentor to want to know
"what happened with that thing you
last discussed" and be sure to express
how their advice was useful. You may
not always see eye to eye with your
mentor, but you are trying to learn from
4. PAY BACK YOUR INVESTOR
Mentors still in the workforce are
managing their own careers while
helping you with yours. Be interested
and supportive of their work by
asking questions like "What are you
working on?" or "How can I help?" Or
send helpful articles. These small
gestures demonstrate your interest
in the relationship beyond your
own personal gain.
A REFLECTION OF
5. BE GRATEFUL
Say thank you frequently. Skip the "send"
button in lieu of a handwritten note.
Everyone likes to feel valued, and your
tangible expression of how thankful you
are for their time and ideas will endear
you to a mentor even more. Gratitude is
your currency, so be generous.
We all need a little help at times, and
mentors are an excellent source to get
you through the learning pains of the
job. Choose your mentors carefully. Look
for a person you can trust, speak up
and ask for help without shame. Offer
some good perspective in return
and you'll form a mutually rewarding
Mentoring is a joint venture. Mentors
want a return on the time spent
with you and point to your success as
a sign of their own. Your growth will
make your mentor glad to have you as
a mentee and you'll both feel as though
Natasha Miller Williams is vice president
of diversity and inclusion for Nielsen.
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - COACHING AND CULTURE 2 0 1 7 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - March/April 2017