How to Gain the Most from a Successful Mentorship

by Maureen Lynch, Director of Hays Ireland

The guidance of a good mentor can significantly help within the development of your career. They’ll share their experience and knowledge, open new opportunities, offer career advice and help you get ahead professionally. However, considering all of this, it’s normal for recipients to think that it’s the mentor’s duty of ensuring the relationship works.

In truth, the mentee has a greater responsibility than they think. Why? Because they must make themselves ‘mentorable’. In other words, they must be willing to be honest and genuine, whilst having responsibility for arranging meetings, preparing accordingly and acting on information given to them.

However, according to a recent survey of ours, only 35% of more than 1,200 people we spoke to were confident that they know what’s expected of them when being mentored. Therefore, it is essential mentees make a conscious effort to form a strong relationship with their mentor.  As this is likely to lead to them gaining the most from a successful mentorship.

So, how can you be an effective mentee? Here’s our advice:

1. Be clear with your purpose: You need to communicate clearly about what you want to achieve during your mentorship. Therefore, it is your responsibility as a mentee to set and discuss your specific objectives and then arrive at each meeting with a clear objective of what you want to achieve in your discussion. It may help to make a note of questions that come to mind throughout your working week that you could ask in your next meeting.

2. Be grateful for the time you have with your mentor: Your mentor is voluntarily taking time out of their day to help you progress and develop your career. So, be respectful and accommodate their schedule when sending each meeting invite. However, understand that sometimes schedules change at the last minute – and if you are the one who needs to reschedule, try to give plenty of notice.

3. Be organized: Come prepared to each meeting to get the most out of your mentor.  For example, if you’re asking your mentor for advice on report writing, bring along a draft report you are working on. This allows your mentor to provide relevant and practical advice.

4. Provide feedback: Let your mentor know how useful and beneficial their time has been for you. After all, they’ve invested time in you that they could have spent elsewhere. Therefore, always share with your mentor the positive impacts they have had upon you, as well as any success you’ve had from their advice.

5. Always look for more advice: No one person is proficient in every skill or competency you want to master. Therefore, look for other people’s opinions and knowledge.

6. Incorporate the new skills you learn: You must make use of the new skills your mentor has taught you. As your mentor has provided you with useful knowledge, guidance and advice, which will only be beneficial if you use it.