Mentoring is a topic near and dear to my heart. I wish I could say that it’s important to me because I had a great mentor, then learned how to mentor, and have been a successful one ever since. However, that’s not the case. In the words of Sophia from The Golden Girls, “Picture it, Greensboro 2004.” I was asked to be a part of a mentoring program to teens. I met my mentee and for twelve weeks, we met, talked, and said goodbye at the end of our appointed session. While it was nice meeting this person, it was a terrible (in my opinion) mentorship. I knew nothing about being a mentor and she knew nothing about being a mentee. We received no training and it showed. We simply talked and that was it.
Two years later, I was assigned a mentor as a young professional. This mentor was to help me get through my first year at a new organization, and guess what? It was horrific! I received the name of my mentor and no resources on how to be a mentee. She received my name, but no training on being a mentor. We were simply introduced and off we went. This partnership actually ended with a couple of tears because it was THAT bad. When you don’t know your role nor the end goal, there’s no way to go but down. We eventually go through the year with a few bruises and when the mentoring program ended, we were thrilled.
Unfortunately, many mentorships happen this way. It wasn’t until I accepted my third mentee with no training on my part that I decided to take matters into my own hands. I began reading books on being a mentor and a mentee. Who knew that there were roles for both?! I read countless mentoring books and tried out different exercises with each new mentee that I received. I did the same thing when I asked a professional to serve as my mentor. Some exercises worked and some didn’t, but each relationship progressed and I learned something in both roles.
You see, what I’ve learned about being a mentor and a mentee is that this relationship can be lifelong or short-term, but each person should get something positive and helpful out of it. There are responsibilities of the people in both positions, but there are also responsibilities of the organizations implementing these programs. It’s important for each person to know the role that is to be played, and nowadays, those roles can flip at times. For the organization, one of the responsibilities is to serve as a guide and mediator (when needed) if the mentoring relationship is not working well. That’s why I created the mentoring guide for companies/organizations. This guide can be adjusted to fit each organization’s needs, but the goal is to create a meaningful mentorship program for employees that lead to positive outcomes.
Click below to access your mentoring guide!
Keep leading and stay safe,