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Three Steps to Creating Great Mentor/Mentee Relationships

By Lisa Woods (1004 words)
Posted in Professional Development on May 17, 2012

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Do you feel like your boss has your best interest in mind when discussing your career path? Does he or she listen to what you want to accomplish, and work with you to help achieve your goals?  OR is the disconnect between what you are doing today, and what you want to be doing, driving you insane? 


If you feel like you are on a different planet at work, like you are not being heard, and you see things differently than your boss…you are not alone.  Often times we expect our boss to be our mentor.  Unfortunately, unless your boss is a great manager, and confident individual, he or she is probably not the best person to play both roles.  Don’t be discouraged…there is a path to sanity if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone.  I am talking about establishing professional mentors to help you find your way to the career path you have always dreamed about.


So let’s delve into three steps to creating a Great Mentor/Mentee relationship.


1)   Develop an understanding of what the relationship should look like:  I’m sure there are official definitions, but let’s talk in simple terms about the role of mentor and mentee.


What is a Professional Mentor? 

  • Someone who has experienced the things you want to experience professionally.
  • Someone who you can contact for professional advice.
  • Someone who may have connections they can steer you toward.
  • Someone who will play devil’s advocate when you need one.
  • Someone whose advice you respect and can act upon, knowing they have your best interest at heart.


What is a Mentee?

  • Someone who has ambition to be successful.
  • Someone who has ideas that they want to share.
  • Someone who is eager to learn what it takes to achieve his or her goals.


2)   Define your ultimate career goal and list of potential Mentors:  

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Who do you know that has accomplished something similar?
  • Who can you find through research, that has accomplished your goal?
  • You can also ask people you know if they have any contacts that meet your description.

You do not need to know your mentor before you connect with them.  You just need to respect their accomplishments.


3)   Make connections with your target Mentors:  

I need to preface this with… DO NOT directly ask if they would like to be your mentor!  That’s not how it works, but here is what you can do.

  • Contact the individuals on your list (by phone, email, letter…whatever you are most comfortable with).
  • Introduce yourself as an aspiring (fill in the blank), and would like some time to pick their brain about what they did to be so successful. 
  • Ask if they would be interested in getting together with you for coffee, for lunch, for a dinner, etc.
  • You can also start with a phone discussion that can be followed up by a first meeting. 
  • Tell them you admire their accomplishments and would like to get their honest opinion about what your next steps should be to move down a similar path.


You can have more than one mentor; a pool of people who are supporting your growth is a good thing.  It relieves stress at work when you know you have a professional network of individuals that are telling you that you are doing the right things, and being honest with you about when you are not. 


Here are a few rules to consider for your Mentor/Mentee relationships:

Do respect one another’s boundaries. 

Don’t expect these individuals to hire you.

Do keep your relationship about mutual respect and admiration. 

Don’t call them everyday and ask for advice.

Do set up a meeting with them every few months to give and get updates. 

Don’t expect them to spell out a path for you to take.

Do come prepared with specific questions and request advice you can take action on for reporting back during your next discussions. 

Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to find a connection that both parties find mutually agreeable.

Do keep looking for the right mentor/mentee relationship until you find one you are comfortable with.


The process to find a great mentor/mentee relationship can be a bit scary and humbling, but to put it into perspective I’d like to leave you with one last question… How would you feel if someone contacted you to be his or her mentor?


I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!




Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


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