A mentor serves as a role model who offers acceptance, confirmation, protection, and even friendship to the mentee. A mentor listens, observes, asks, counsels, coaches, challenges, and sponsors the mentee.
But mentees need to know how to make the most of their mentor’s fantastic skills. But how can that be successfully achieved?
Business support is about more than just financial investment, according to one millionaire entrepreneur
If you have ever been to London’s Cinnamon Club or Roast Restaurants, did you know that their founder, Iqbal Wahhab was lent £1m by NatWest in 2000 to open his first restaurant, the Cinnamon Club. The bank manager in question believed in the project and in Iqbal’s team’s ability to deliver. This, in turn gave his investors the confidence that they were doing the right thing in backing him.
Fast forward 15 years and the businesses Iqbal has created since then have generated more than £100m in revenue, around £10m in profits, and created jobs for thousands of people. An awesome business success story!
But Iqbal himself has admitted that the term ‘mentor’ wasn’t around much when he started out. If it had been he wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes he did, and he thinks businesses could do with more peer advice because no bank manager he has encountered has ever offered him any!
I don’t know whether that’s always the case, as I have seen some of the most well-known high street banks touting their support and advice for small businesses. Bottom line, business support is about more than just financial investment.
I couldn’t agree more with what Iqbal says - businesses today, especially start-ups, could really benefit from having a great mentor. People who do this are more able to shift from being reactive to proactive. The mentor must also be somebody from whom the mentee is prepared to learn. However the mentee must have final say about which ideas they want to take on board.
So how can entrepreneurs or ambitus company professionals who want to see their career grow, make the most of working with their mentors?
Here are 5 Top Tips from the expert trainers at Creativedge about how to make the most of working with your mentor:-
1. Mentoring should be regular
Busy people can easily get sucked into “fire-fighting” and catching up on yesterday’s business. Everybody needs to take time out to take a more strategic view of their challenges and possibilities. People who do this are more able to shift from being reactive to proactive,
Mentoring is one vehicle for helping people to make this happen. It is therefore important for mentees to schedule specific times for mentoring sessions that enable them to find creative solutions to their challenges.
How often? A 2-hour (max) session every quarter is recommended as a minimum, however the exact frequency should be determined by the mentor and mentee.
2. Mentee drives it!
Good mentors want to share their knowledge and experience, but they are usually very busy people. At the same time they also realise it is important to set aside real quality time to ensure that mentees get real value from their sessions.
Past experience in other organisations shows that mentoring works best when the mentee is proactive and takes responsibility for the practical things.
For example, setting the dates for the sessions; flagging up beforehand the kind of issues they would like to discuss; identifying their own potential solutions before meeting their mentor etc.
3. Mentee chooses
The mentee choose their mentor…
The mentor must have credibility in the eyes of the mentee, otherwise they will not be open to any of their knowledge, advice and experience.
Many factors can be considered, but most of all, there must be a strong ‘values fit’ between the two parties, much like the one Mark Zuckerberg had with his mentor, Steve Jobs.
The mentor must also be somebody who the mentee is prepared to learn from, however the mentee must have final say about which ideas they want to take on board.
Good mentors will always have a demand for their services.
So the saying goes…”When the mentor is ready, the mentee finds them.”
4. Mentee and Mentor contract
The mentee and their mentor should agree on a joint contract.
It is important to ensure clarity of who is responsible for what in the relationship, so mentee and mentor should jointly agree a clear ‘contract’ and commitment to each other from the outset. A contract may include things that the mentor and mentee jointly agree:-
- They WILL DO
- They WON’T DO
- They CAN DO
- They CAN’T DO
Contracting also clarifies any areas which the mentor is either not prepared or able to discuss with the mentee. Different mentors will offer different things to their mentees.
5. Mentees are trained
The mentees are also trained.
Interested mentees should be invited to attend a half-day ‘mentoring preview’ workshop.
The mentee is then equipped to know:-
- What mentoring is, how the process works and “is this right for me?”
- What are the challenges that I would like to work on with my mentor?
- Who would make a credible mentor for me? Why?
- How can I get the most from my mentor?
Are you a mentee? Want to learn how to make the most of working with your mentor. Click here to book to register to join our Mentee Skills Virtual Training Course on Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 18:00:00 PM BST - 19:30:00 PM BST
Or for more Top Tips on mentoring or a variety of other workplace issues, visit the Creativedge ‘Top 10 Tips’ mobile App available for iPhone and Android smartphones:-