Having a mentor can be a huge boost to your career, so it’s an opportunity worth seeking out. However, most mentees have never taken part in a mentorship before—and you need to use specific skills and take an active role to make the most of your mentorship. The good news is that anyone can learn the principles and skills to be a good mentee.
This article breaks down the first steps in preparing for mentorship and provides tips for finding the right mentor to guide you in career growth, skill development, and other avenues of advancement.
What are the Qualities of a Good Mentee?
Good mentees share certain characteristics in common that set them up for success, including:
Curiosity and Openness
Mentorship is all about growth. To achieve that, you need to be willing to explore and be open to possibilities you may not have considered. This is a time to challenge your own perspective and assumptions. Flexibility is important as well — as your knowledge and self-awareness grow, you need to be open to changing your actions and even your goals to get where you want to go.
Humility and a Willingness to Learn
Your ultimate goal as a mentee should be to grow and improve. That takes the humility of understanding that you have a lot to learn. As a mentee, you have to put your ego aside and be receptive to advice, feedback and direction that can help you develop as a person and in your career.
Self-Awareness and a Growth Mindset
In order to increase your knowledge and capabilities, you first have to understand where you are right now. Awareness of your strengths and areas where you can improve is crucial to taking the right steps to further your development. It’s also key to adopt a growth mindset, which means you believe in your ability to improve by putting in the right work.
What are the Behaviors Expected of a Mentee?
A mentee is someone who enters into a learning relationship with a more experienced mentor in order to grow and develop. Mentees are expected to engage in certain behaviors that will help establish a good relationship with their mentor and optimize their learning.
Being Proactive and Taking Initiative
Your mentor is there to give you the right tools and guidance to succeed. But the rest is up to you. Mentors don’t hand you jobs, promotions or connections. Instead, they provide you the direction needed to acquire those things for yourself. You have to take charge by asking the right questions and actively engaging in meaningful conversations.
Showing initiative also means taking appropriate risks. Having a mentor opens a lot of doors to connections with people you might not be able to achieve without a mentor. But your mentor may also ask you to initiate these meetings and attend on your own, for example. This may seem daunting, but you have to put yourself out there if you want to take advantage of opportunity. Allow your mentor to challenge you to do things out of your comfort zone.
Listening and Communicating Effectively
Good communication is crucial for effective mentorship — and preparation is key to good communication. For example, you should come prepared with your own agenda for meetings with your mentor. It is often up to the mentee to initiate and move the connection along. You need to make your goals and what you are hoping to get out of the relationship very clear. This will not only shape conversations and discussions during meetings, but allow your mentor to work on these goals outside of your meetings.
Demonstrating Gratitude and Respect
Respect and trust are the foundation of any good mentorship relationship. This means showing appreciation for your mentor’s time and efforts, and recognizing their experience and knowledge. It also means being held accountable for your actions. While you rely on your mentor to push you towards opportunities, they rely on you to fulfill your own promises. This means completing tasks that are asked of you between meetings and dedicating time each week to be present at meetings.
It’s also important to be respectful of your mentor’s time. Allow for rescheduling if your mentor winds up trapped in a meeting or completing a project. Make sure you agree on communication protocols, including availability and channels, so that your communication is effective and friction-free for both of you.
How Can I Start Being a Mentee?
Establishing yourself as a mentee is a multi-step process. Here are some of the basics.
- Define what you want out of a mentorship
- Decide what kind of mentor you want
- Find potential mentors
- Invite a mentor to start working with you
- Prepare for and participate in your first meeting
- Work on your mentee skills
- Stay engaged in your mentorship and fulfill your commitments
How Can I Find the Right Mentor?
Finding the right mentor is key to a positive mentorship experience. Good mentors have certain qualities in common, including relevant experience, good communication skills, a real desire to help and more. But beyond these characteristics, it’s important to find a mentor who is a good fit for you. For instance, you want to make sure you feel comfortable spending time with your mentor and discussing personal topics and that they have the kind of experience that you want to learn from.
There are several things to consider about yourself and the person you want to be your mentor before you make the ask. Make sure you consider these questions before you start your journey.
How Can I Find the Right Mentor?
One question we hear all the time is “how do I find the right person to be my mentor?” There are several things to consider about yourself and the person you want to be your mentor before you make the ask. Make sure you’re considering all of these questions before you start your journey.
(Learn how Chronus’ MatchIQ suggests the best mentor and mentee matches with precision.)
(0:20) The different kinds of mentoring that help you get better at your desired skill
(1:00) How to reach out to your network for mentoring opportunities
Chances are, you will be able to find a great mentor right within your workplace. This process can be a lot easier if your organization offers a formal program with automated mentor matching. Matching systems can screen possibilities for you based on your interests and needs and introduce you to potential mentors that you may not be able to discover on your own.
How Can I Ask for Mentorship?
Asking someone to be your mentor can be a bit nerve-racking, but just remember that you’re doing this to learn from another person’s experience and ultimately, improve yourself. Be sure to prepare yourself ahead of making the ask by answering these important questions.
(0:35) Key questions to consider when asking someone to be a mentor
(1:00) How mentees can drive the relationship
(1:35) How to muster the courage to ask
How Should I Prepare for the First Meeting?
The first meeting between a mentor and mentee is very important. It’s where you’ll work out the details of your relationship, such as how often you should meet and how long your mentorship will last. You’ll also discuss each of your goals for the mentorship. Learn what to ask and what to say to give yourself a head start.
(0:35) How to build trust and rapport with your mentor
(:45) How to address “elephants in the room”
(1:05) How to establish ground rules
How Can I Develop a Growth Mindset for Greater Mentorship?
Think you can’t teach the adult brain new tricks? Think again. This video breaks down how to build a growth mindset—which includes taking responsibility, being proactive, being receptive to feedback and more—for great mentorship and skill development.
(0:30) The flaw with the fixed mindset
(1:20) The research on malleable brains
(1:30) Adopting the growth mindset and how it impacts learning new skills
Mentoring is an invaluable experience that can make a big difference in your career. But you have to put preparation and effort into it so that you can reap the full benefits. Being proactive and taking the initiative to be a good mentee will improve your mentoring relationships and help optimize your mentee experience.
Chronus mentoring software can help mentees, mentors and organizations reach their mentoring goals. To learn more about mentoring program best practices, check out our mentorship resources or learn more about how mentoring software can reduce admin time and effort while automating your mentoring program.