How to deal with a mentor match that starts off awkwardly

Connecting with a mentor may be a big profit in your profession. An increasing number of firms are launching and increasing mentorship packages, so they’re designating mentors, matching mentors, and establishing mentor-mentee relationships from the second you be a part of the corporate.

However for a lot of, the task of a mentor is simply a first step. Like a blind date, it may be awkward—solely a toe within the water in an unsure sea. As a mentee, how will you make the connection profitable? Particularly in case you’re new to a firm or a function, you might not really feel you may have a lot of affect within the enterprise. Genuinely, you may considerably contribute to creating the circumstances for a nice expertise.

Table of Contents

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Go in with gratitude

Once you’re contemplating how to create a nice relationship with your mentor, begin with gratitude. No matter how good (or imperfect) the match, acknowledge and respect the time your mentor spends with you and the recommendation they provide. Whether or not or not it’s precisely what you’re searching for, there may be nonetheless a component of generosity related with how your mentor is carving out moments for you and offering perspective.

Additionally know you’re a part of a two-way relationship. Moderately than believing the mentor is in command of the connection, remind your self that you’re each professionals who’ve a contribution to make. Your mentor could know extra concerning the function or the corporate, however you additionally convey a lot of experience in different areas.

Assist your mentor make it easier to

Too typically, mentors really feel a lot of strain to fill time and convey matters to the desk. Additional, they might not obtain a lot of coaching or teaching from the group about how to be good at mentoring. You may be useful to the mentor and get extra of what you want if you find yourself proactive. Be ready with a checklist of matters. Ask questions aligned with the mentor’s expertise. Provoke discussions concerning the firm tradition or nuances about how issues get accomplished within the group. Likelihood is your mentor will respect your initiative and the chance to assist in areas that are most helpful for you.

Concentrate on constructing belief with your mentor. When growing relationships, openness tends to lead to more openness. Share particulars about your self and watch your mentor likewise share elements of their life. Improve the quantity of sharing you do over time, as the connection grows. The extra your mentor understands about you, the extra they are often particular concerning the steering, teaching, or recommendation they provide.

Be expansive in interested by how your mentor will help you. It’s possible you’ll simply want a small quantity of orientation to the methods within the group, or you might want a deeper stage of steering about how to increase your community. Much more, you might want teaching to make it easier to clear up a downside or work via a thorny difficulty. Or on the highest stage, you might want somebody to advocate for you within the group. A mentor can fill all of those roles, or maybe only one. Work to tailor your requests to acknowledge these numerous ranges of mentorship, the assist you want, and (maybe most of all) the character of the connection you’re constructing.

Unfold the wealth

Too typically, when a firm assigns a mentor, it will possibly form the expectation that the mentor will present all the required sorts of assist you want. However that is most likely an excessive amount of to ask from anyone individual. You’ll possible want to discover a number of folks from whom to get teaching. Maybe your mentor will help you get acclimated to the corporate’s insurance policies or processes however can’t provide you with steering about casual networks. Or possibly your mentor will provide you with recommendation about rising your profession, however received’t be a part of your good friend community.

It’s a uncommon individual in any relationship who can meet all your wants, and mentors are not any exception. Figuring out this, join with loads of folks throughout your organization. Maintain one-on-ones, invite contacts to seize a (digital) espresso, and search out those that can present every kind of data and assist. Take into consideration broadening your relationships throughout the community on the identical time you’re deepening your relationship with your mentor.

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Maintain real looking expectations

There may be a false impression that mentor-mentee relationships ought to final a lifetime, however in actuality the very best mentorship relationships are comparatively time-bound. They often final about a yr, or possibly two. In case you occur to discover a match made in heaven, by all means keep the bond. But in addition reassure your self that if the connection ends after a yr or so, it’s not a failure; quite the opposite, this period of time is about proper.

It’s at all times sensible to have a mentor who will help, information, and coach, nevertheless it’s extra typical to have a collection of mentors over time, fairly than one who lasts a few years. You’ll have totally different wants at totally different phases of your profession, and the precise mentor on the proper time will help you thrive.

General, know the connection you may have with your mentor is yours to form and affect. It’s a context for loads of studying—about duties, roles, tradition, and the community—and it will also be a excellent place for you to increase your views of what works greatest. Later, while you’re the mentor to a new mentee, you may apply all the very best practices you’ve discovered from the relationships you’ve constructed.


Tracy Brower, PhD, is a sociologist centered on work, staff, and office, working for Steelcase. She is the writer of  The Secrets to Happiness at Work.