Accountability in Your Mentorship Relationship

marc bombenon

One of the keys to a truly successful mentorship relationship is building a sense of accountability early on.  Establishing accountability from the beginning will help both parties in the mentorship relationship to actively benefit from the exchange. Often times, mentorships end up fizzling out because the mentor provides advice, connections, etc to a protégé who does not understand that they must be an active member of the partnership. One of the first things that a new mentor should do is have an active discussion about accountability with their protégé and create an outline of what accountability will look like moving forward.

Create a Timeline

It’s impossible to plan out every single step of a protégé’s career; but that doesn’t mean that realistic goals and benchmarks should not be set. A clear timeline will allow both parties to agree upon exactly what is expected to come from their relationship.

When establishing a timeline, it’s important for both parties to communicate openly and honestly. A mentor may have certain ideas based on their experience, while a protégé have certain ideas expectations based on their ideas of what success look like. Remember that nothing is cast in stone; these goals and time frames can be reassessed if need be.

The purpose of the timeline is to allow the protégé to assess exactly what needs to be down in order to reach their goals, and gives them something to work towards. With a timeline in place, a protégé will be less likely to wait around for a mentor to give tips and advice, and it allows the protégé to be proactive within their career.

Measure Progress

In a mentor & protégé partnership, it’s important for both parties involved to take an active part in the measurements of progress and success. This will keep both parties aware of what is going on, and allow for healthy and active discussion on what has been accomplished, and what (if anything) has become stagnant in the plan.

One of the best ways to create accountability is to have a regularly scheduled meeting (bi-weekly, monthly, etc) that should not be broken; have a backup date scheduled as well. Consistency is key, and the continued meetings and discussions will keep everyone active and eager to have events and topics to report about.

Have a way to keep track of progress and accomplishments. Both people can keep a journal, or there can be a running document. Just make sure that there’s a way to actively measure that progress and accountability.

The Keys to Healthy Accountability Discussions

  • Good Timing: It’s important that the mentor (and protégé) be able to read the situation at hand. If one party is already down for whatever reason, it’s important to create a situation of comfort and optimism before delivering negative or hard news. Poorly-timed chastising could very well destroy a healthy mentor-protégé relationship.
  • Positive Attitudes: It’s important to keep positivity and happiness at the forefront of any discussion. A great mentor should be able to instill a sense of confidence in their protégé, even if there are negative topics that need to be discussed. No one benefits from being constantly bombarded with negative energy.

 

Creating A Mentorship Program At Your Company

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If you’ve been following my blog, you know how important I believe mentorship to be for success and growth within any career path. If you have the ability to do so, one of the most valuable things you can do in any workplace is to create a mentorship program. A successful program has the ability to lead to higher employee satisfaction and allow for the development of new leadership skills. If carried out correctly, there is very little room for the mentorship program to have a negative impact. There are a few things that you’ll need to take care of in order to build a successful mentorship program:

 

Determine Your Program’s Objective

Before you try to pitch your idea for your mentorship program, you must first determine the goals and structure you see for the program. Your company may have different issues and needs to address, so be sure to figure out what you want to tackle. (A mentorship program for new hires would require a completely different setup than a mentorship program that is focused on grooming future company leaders.)

 

One of the major keys will be to make sure you work with the company culture. Formal work culture will require a more formal process and more relaxed scenes will require less structure. But no matter what the culture, you will need to determine how the mentor/mentee pairings will be established and determine a general outline of goals that should be accomplished through the partnership.

 

Marc Bombenon – Building a Mutually Beneficial Mentor-Mentee Relationship

Determine the Pairing Process

This will by and large be the most difficult (and vital) part of the process. There are a few different ways that you can structure the mentor & mentee relationship:

 

Group Mentoring: In this set-up, a number of employees work together to share information, provide advice, and work towards a goal of mutual professional growth. Most group mentoring programs have a “group leader” who facilitates the forward movement of the group.

 

Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring is the pairing up of similar employees. In this scenario, individuals develop a relationship based on the transfer of knowledge, and create an environment rich with skills and continuous learning.

 

Flash Mentoring: This mentoring scenario would be a series of “one-time meetings or discussions” where those interested in being mentored can sit down and meet with different mentors. This situation puts less pressure on the mentor, but still allows for the mentee to get the information that they need.


 

For resources: Inc. & Management Mentors & Flash Mentoring

Qualities to Look For in a Mentor

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A mentor can truly be one of the most valuable assets in your professional life. No matter what level you are at in your career, one can always benefit from having someone more experienced and more connected in their corner. Mentors have been proven to help advance careers, support new ventures, and provide guidance every step along the way. When choosing a mentor, there are a few qualities that you should be looking for.

 

Experience

The entire purpose of building a mentor and mentee relationship, is to create a space where the mentee benefits from the mentor’s experience. Make sure that the mentor you choose has pertinent and appropriate experience, and that their career path or expertise aligns with your career goals.

 

Motivational Abilities

A mentor should have the ability to teach you how to be better and more productive. It’s important that you two have great professional chemistry and that they have the tools to motivate you when you’re feeling discouraged or unsure.

 

Network

This is HUGELY important. A good mentor will be able to get you connected with relevant professionals within your industry and beyond. A well connected mentor means you will be guaranteed great introductions, get access to career-relevant events, and be put into the line of sight of thought-leaders in your field.

 

Goal Oriented

As a mentee, you will undoubtedly have goals and aspirations of your own. But your mentor should have the ability to hone in on what you want to accomplish and create realistic step-by-step goals that will lead you down the correct path. A great mentor will help you stay focused and provide guidance when goals feel unattainable.

 

Clear Perspective

It’s very important that your mentor bring unbiased opinions to the table. The last thing that you need is someone who will always take your side in a moment of professional (or personal) conflict. You will need someone who is ready to listen to your side of the story and give you appropriate and realistic feedback; they need to be able to tell you when you are wrong.

To see the inspiration for this article, click here.

Building a Mutually Beneficial Mentor-Mentee Relationship

When entering the professional world, having a mentor can be very important. In fact,  a 2012 Dimensional Research survey revealed that mentorship was the number one request by millennials worldwide. 42% of millennials said that when it came time to enter the professional world, they wanted mentors.But can the mentor learn from their mentees as well? It turns out that the mentor-mentee relationship has become mutually beneficial.

To understand the ways the mentor-mentee relationship in changing in today’s society, we must look at how millennials are shifting their focus. While they are strongly enthusiastic about getting mentors, they don’t necessarily want to follow in their mentor’s shoes. It may seem at first pointless to mentor someone who isn’t doing exactly what you want to do. Perhaps this diversity in aspirations is what leads mentors to learn from mentees, too.

But there are more benefits to the mentor-mentee relationship than seeing someone choose their own experience. So what is it that makes mentoring a younger person such a good life experience? And how can we get the most out of the mentor-mentee relationship?

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Of course, it feels rewarding to help another person. But there are more benefits to the mentor-mentee relationship than the satisfaction of lending a helping hand. Mentoring a younger person also gives a mentor insight into the mindset of the younger work force. This allows the professionals in higher up positions to understand more about millennials who are entering the workforce. It also gives the mentor connections to the mentee’s friends and peers. This network of people provides many viable candidates for professions that need to be filled. Companies and individuals will need to hire these young professionals in the next 10 to 15 years in order to stay relevant.

One of the most important things to remember when maintaining a mentor-mentee relationship is to keep it professional. Make sure that the friendship does not become one similar to a parent and child. It is important to set expectations and remain constructive. And of course, stay open to learning new information and skills from your mentee.

The younger crop of professionals can also help out their mentors figure out new aspects of the professional world that may be stumping them. For example, millennials are a great source of information on how to manage social media. In the information age, technology is constantly creating new jobs and new professional angles that are necessary to take. A mentor is an enormously helpful person in a young professional’s life. But in an ever changing professional world, mentees can help mentors get ahead in the professional world, too.

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

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Much like finding a friend, finding a mentor isn’t something that you blatantly ask for and then receive. It takes time, relationship building and trust – a reason why many mentorship searches fizzle out before they even truly begin. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t give up on making friends just because it’s “hard.” Instead, you find a new approach and rely on the organic nature of human interaction.

If you want to find that perfect mentor, consider the following points:

Stop thinking of a mentor as a tool you have and instead, think of a mentor as a relationship you nurture. According to Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, “If someone has to ask [can you be my mentor], the answer is probably no.” Mentorship isn’t something you find hanging from the bottom branches of a tree. It’s even more unlikely a stranger will agree to be your mentor if they are a public figure. Take some time actually getting to know people and evaluate your role as a mentee. It isn’t all about what you can take. Find people you know and admire in your office or who you’ve come into contact with at some point in your career. Attend those extracurricular functions and volunteer for difficult projects. You’re bound to run into someone you can look up to.

Sometimes, it’s even better to think outside the box. Depending on the skills and qualities you admire, your mentor may not be in your career field. For example, if you’re a young entrepreneur with a tech startup looking for guidance, another successful businessperson or marketing director can offer significant insight even if they aren’t in the tech industry. The act of building a business, marketing it, and nurturing it contains immense knowledge that any beginner can use.

If you have no idea what type of mentor you’re looking for, take a step back and flesh out your needs. Pick a mentor who shares your values or believes in a similar mission. Someone who’s optimistic, straightforward, and encouraging would be your best bet. While you could opt for the bitter, jaded professional with 30+ years experience under their belt, this mentor may not be the best fit for you. Make sure you and your mentor have mutual respect.

In most cases, the person you want to mentor you has a million other things they could be doing besides sharing their wealth of knowledge. Because of this, it’s important to be someone who is enjoyable to mentor. Much like you would ask your mentor to be kind, understanding, and reasonable, you have to be the same. Be great at what you do, ask for more responsibility, and give credit where credit is due. Also put yourself in your mentor’s position. If you were them, would you want to mentor you?

The road to finding a mentor isn’t straight and narrow. There are many avenues and exciting ways to connect with someone who can help you when you need it most. Just remember, mentorship is always a two-way street.