Having a mentor can be a life-changing experience in your career. Many benefits are gained to have someone guiding you on the right path. Someone who empowers you to explore options that were previously unimaginable, who opens up their network, gives you access to new opportunities, and teaches you how to navigate challenges and struggles you might encounter. However, having a mentor is not always a success. And I will explain to you why, in this article.
Unlike following courses, webinars, or reading books, investing in a mentor gives you direct access to their experience and knowledge. But finding the right mentor is quite a challenge itself and when you do find a mentor who is adding value to your career and life, you’re very, very fortunate. To get to that point is to know what you want from a mentor so that he or she can act accordingly and can give you the guidance you need.
A mentor is NOT a coach
Now, please pay attention, as in this phase most problems occur. You have to understand that having a mentor and/or going into a mentorship program, it’s not the same as having a coach! A coach will offer you structured training to reach your goals, but having a mentor is more relationship-focused. There’s a more loosely approach to the program because…most importantly, the mentee is responsible for driving the sessions and steering the relationships. As I said, a mentor is there to guide you and not tell you what to do.
It’s all about expectations
So before you even start a mentoring program, make sure you have the right expectations of your mentor and your relationship with him/her. And are you committed to investing in yourself by showing up for the scheduled meetings, taking initiative, and finishing the program? Find out if you really are a good match with your possible mentor. Make sure you feel comfortable sharing personal information. Are you on the same page? Can your mentor relate to your goals, desires, dreams, and aspirations?
And above all, like I already mentioned…Do you both have the same expectations from your mentor-mentee relationship and do you understand your responsibilities? Understanding the roles of both mentor and mentee will be a huge factor in being it a successful experience.
To find out if you are a perfect fit, the next step is to have a meeting where a pre-mentoring assessment takes place. It’s kind of like speed dating, but then business-wise. Both mentor and mentee have the opportunity to get a feeling of the other person, their way of thinking and acting, and more importantly, discuss your goals and see if this person can actually support you in your journey.
Free mentorships and high ticket mentorship programs
There are mentors who will charge a fee, which goes from affordable to having a serious price tag. And there are mentors who will do it without asking for any fees. It’s a totally personal decision as to what’s your best fit. Keep in mind, that when it’s a free program, you need to have the commitment as it’s very easy to just let it flow because it didn’t cost you anything. But wasting each other’s time is a definite no-go. Lastly, what is affordable or possible in terms of payment, depends on each individual, and therefore you want to be looking for someone with a unique value to you, who has the time and who is sincerely interested in you and your journey of growth.
What makes a good mentor?
A good mentor consistently and skillfully offers generous listening, and affirmation, will challenge you, give feedback and insider information, is good at networking, can grow your visibility, and teach you professional socialization and attitude. If you can afford to pay for your mentorship, I recommend only spending money that you expect a return on in your business within six months to a year. And check out former mentees’ experiences of the mentor you have set your eyes on.
To get the most out of your mentor-mentee relationship is to be open and learn to be vulnerable. You need to share information for the mentor to be able to mentor you. You need to reach out with any issues to eventually be able to talk about possible solutions. You have to be open to taking feedback, otherwise, the mentoring sessions will not be effective. And lastly, you must follow up with the mentor to realize a successful outcome.
What if the mentorship doesn’t work out?
Of course, there’s always the possibility a mentorship doesn’t work out for you. It can be for several reasons and it’s up to the both of you to find and discuss the underlying reason(s). Again, honesty, transparency, and clear communication are needed to discuss why this is happening, and only then, you can talk about adjusting and improving the mentorship or mutually agree to terminate the mentorship in its entirety.
Express your Gratitude
If you are no longer learning from your mentor or the chemistry is simply not there, there’s no point in continuing the relationship. The best way to end the relationship without burning any bridges is to show gratitude. Start the separation conversation by thanking your mentor for all of her/his time and effort. Detail what you’ve learned in the course of the relationship and how those skills will help your career in the future. Maintain the focus on yourself and your reasons for wanting to move on. By keeping it positive, you’ll create space to have the possibility of future collaborations.
Whether your mentorship is a positive life-changing experience or a complete drama, I encourage you to stay in touch. Let your mentor know where you are, and remind him/her of the impact of your time together, their guidance, and overall investment have had on you, your career, and your life. Give gratitude and appreciation to each and every mentor you’ll have in your life.
Written by: Yustine Alvares
Personal & Business Branding Strategist, Business Mentor, and Multiple Business Owner