Ask any senior successful individual in the corporate sector and they will tell you that a mentor, a sponsor, or a coach has, at a point in time in their career, contributed to their success. Some share the story of a lifelong sponsor who was critical at each significant milestone. Others will recall that one mentoring conversation was the catalyst for a turning point.
But too many mentoring relationships end awkwardly after two meetings. When you have finished asking them questions about their career and sharing your own long-term ambitions, it is not uncommon to lack inspiration for the next conversation with your mentor.
Here is how to diagnose and bring life back into your mentoring partnership!
Step 1 – Establish trust and common expectations
Have you established a level of trust with your mentor that enables you to be completely open and vulnerable in your conversations? Are you both clear on the expectations of the partnership (time, frequency, number of sessions)?
If you have answered no to either question, you need to start here. Make sure you explicitly express to your mentor that you would like to work together for a defined period of time (6 months), that you would like them to help you achieve a tangible goal and that you would like your conversations to remain strictly confidential.
In order to increase the trust factor, you can also ask them questions that will enable them to be really open with you, so you are more comfortable doing the same.
Step 2 – Identify clear and measurable goals
Have you written down what you want to achieve with the help of your mentor? Have you shared this with them very succinctly and specifically?
Setting goals can seem tedious and daunting but it is the most powerful way to grow. Start by answering this question: ‘What will I achieve with my mentor that I would not have otherwise achieved on my own?’. Share this with your mentor, and together you can clarify: ‘How will I feel, where will I be, what will I be proud of at the end of this year?’ This will allow you to set aspirational but specific goals to tackle together in each session.
Step 3 – Take action in between sessions
Are you starting your mentoring meetings by reviewing how you have implemented the actions agreed to at the end of the previous session?
This is the secret to a successful and impactful mentoring partnership. This differentiates a series of coffee chats and true mentorship. You can do this by wrapping up each session with a commitment to taking one or two simple small actions to bring to life your session insights. These could be change to the way you approach your responsibilities at work, or it could be reaching out to a senior leader for a networking conversation, or it could be taking a lead role in the next big client pitch. These actions are defined together with your mentor in each session when discussing your goals and how to achieve them.
By following these three steps, you will find that each mentoring session becomes like episodes of a TV series when you can’t wait for the next one. You will also impress your mentor who will feel that their time is used in a meaningful way.