Mentoring has played a new role in the past year. We’ve seen that first hand from our customers. In times when anxieties about career paths have been replaced with fears about just retaining a job at all, mentors and mentees have been support systems, positive influences and, sometimes, even therapists.
In order to make sure your mentoring relationships are prepared for what’s to come and continue on a high note, we offer these mentoring best practices:
Be an Initiator
Mentoring whether virtual or in-person has always required a level of intentionality and accountability to succeed. With social distancing in effect, these things are more important than ever. If you want to discuss something with your mentor, add it to your agenda. If you want to change the way you’re connecting with your mentee, make the request. If you want to receive an introduction to another person in your networks, make the ask.
A mentoring relationship is not a passive arrangement. Together, mentor and mentee should be deciding what to focus on in their connection, so that both parties feel they are getting true value.
Meet Your Partner Where They Are
Mentoring relationships don’t have to be all business. Sometimes, a meeting needs to be a place where a person can blow off steam, act goofy or be vulnerable. Whether you’re a mentor or mentee, check in with your partner and make sure you understand their needs and are providing that space and level of understanding.
This goes for meeting times and modes. As the holidays come, schedules change and pandemic restrictions remain, revisit the cadence of your meetings, as well as the tools you’re using to engage in those meetings. Reaffirm together that these things still work for your relationship, or decide that adjustments need to be made in order to better meet personal needs and bandwidths.
Reassess Your Goals
The goals you had last January or February might look very different from the world you know now. Revisit why you got into your mentoring relationship in the first place. Adjust your milestones to meet your new normal. And discuss these adjustments with your mentor or mentee. Together, you can help each other create new aspirations and opportunities for the year ahead.
It can be tough to stay focused and committed to your mentoring goals at any time, but especially during the ups and downs of 2020. Cut yourself some slack, and then reignite your commitment to mentoring in a way that best serves you in your new normal. Mentoring is what you make of it and what you put into it. Determine what will serve you best in the coming six months or a year, and establish with your partner the steps (big or small) you’ll need to take in order to get there.