Congratulations on finding a mentor. You might be asking yourself, “What do I do now?” That’s a great question and one which many people don’t consider before starting out on this journey. As with anything worth doing, it pays to plan your process.
I’ve created a simple checklist at the end of this article to help keep you on track with your planning.
Here are the 4 key areas to plan for your mentorship and why they are important.
The beginning – month 1.
If you have both agreed to commence the mentor-mentee relationship, in most cases you should plan for a 6-month period. This will give you time to develop in the areas you need to and for your mentor to confidently assess and guide your performance.
Your first month will be heavily focused on getting to know each other and determining your goals and how to achieve them. This is an important stage because it sets the tone for the way you work together. You can’t rush the process of finding common ground and building rapport. Equally, you can’t successfully move ahead without it.
At this stage you need to work on building your relationship and rapport. As you do so, clarify your roles and what you expect of each other. Agree on how you will work, how often you will meet, your ground rules, availability, and logistics, and how you will hold each other accountable for your commitments.
Growth – Months 2 – 5
By the second month the mentoring process should be underway. At this stage it is easy to become so involved in “doing the stuff” that you forget where you’re going. Before entering the relationship, be clear on what success will look like.
How will you know you’re moving ahead in the right direction? Think about the signposts that will tell you you’re on the right path. Don’t forget to consider your feelings as signposts, too. Increasing confidence or work satisfaction matter.
When you’ve planned where you’re going and how you will measure your performance and success, consider how you will keep yourself accountable for your promises. Motivation can fade when the going gets tough, can’t it? Knowing this makes it easier to prepare your strategies ahead of time.
Finally, how will you monitor your mentor-mentee relationship to keep it on track? How can you remember to check and meet your mentor’s needs in addition to your own. You might need to build a reminder into your plan.
Review – Month 6
By the time you reach your sixth month working together you should be able to see and feel significant progress. Before you agree to formally end the agreement, you need to both review your progress.
You’ve developed your goals and signposts for success. Now is the time to reflect and evaluate your performance. Your mentor will be able to give you feedback on what he or she has seen in your development and to comment on any gaps that remain.
- How will you evaluate your success?
- How will you measure your satisfaction? Remember to measure your performance as a mentee, too.
- Were you of use to your mentor?
It’s at this point you will both consider whether to continue the relationship. Inevitably, as you grow, your need for the mentor will end. However, if you have not reached the performance levels you desire, now is the time to renegotiate a new ‘contract’ with your mentor or to find a new one.
This is the step many people forget to plan for. This is when you and your mentor evaluate the process and learn from it. No good mentor will allow the formal relationship to end without knowing you have a logical action plan in place to keep moving you forward. It’s time to consider your future. Will you continue a relationship with this person and if so, what form will it take? You’ve had a close and often intense relationship with your mentor: you can’t just walk away from it. While you end the formal mentoring relationship, you may have a friendship you’d both like to continue.
By thinking about and planning for each of these four stages of your mentoring process, you will be prepared for whatever happens. Thoughtful planning will keep you on track to your goals and help you maintain a quality relationship with your mentor. It is well worth your time and effort to plan before you enter a mentoring agreement and will deliver results for you both.
Below you’ll find a link with a checklist which summarises the points I’ve covered in each of the four stages. I hope it helps keep you on track.
If you would like to find out more about our Strategic Relationships workshop or how your organisation can implement a mentoring program, then contact us. We’ve helped many organisations create successful programs that ensure their talent pipeline is full.