Mentees probably join a mentoring program for an array of reasons, and some of which are likely to doom the relationship. The first thing I will do with my mentee is to establish clearly and honestly why she joined the program. There is list of things I won’t be doing, and the top of the list looks like this:
- Telling her what to do.
- Doing stuff for her.
- Leverage my network.
It may seem odd that I won’t be dishing out advice, but I happen to be a firm believer in the Socratic method of teaching. I will ask the questions that will lead her to arrive at an answer. If I am any good, it will be the answer I think is right.
I won’t do stuff – I have enough to do. I have a business – a family – a life. I am not doing it for charitable purposes. I can’t charge for my services. Despite the fact that this expectation is dealt with upfront, I am pretty sure the reason why the organisers have to keep dealing with an the introduction evening is because it keeps popping up.
I won’t leverage my network directly, but I will (hopefully) teach her to leverage hers. My network is there for me to help (not the other way around) and the mentee may become part of the network after the mentoring relationship is over.