I have a new mentee. We haven’t met yet, but we have corresponded by email to arrange the first meeting. And it made me think: what makes for a good mentor?
The essence of mentoring is having a helpful conversation with a less experienced mentee who has a dilemma. In many cases, the mentee is faced with a complex choice to be made, normally concerning personal transition or change.
And it turns out that the dilemma of my particular mentee is the choice of either pursuing an academic and teaching career or switching track to consultancy. Not an easy decision.
It’s not about you!
As a mentor, there are a number of challenges and traps, as with many other professional conversations in which you want to help another person. The mentoring talk, however, is special.
In the case of the mentor programme at Djoef, mentoring is voluntary and a personal relationship between two independent individuals with no business relations or strings. Among the common traps are the mentor being too ambitious on behalf of the mentee or the mentor talking too much about himself.
Stupid, lazy and yourself!
At a recent classmaster session of the mentor programme I felt provoked. The speaker’s recommendations were: be stupid, be lazy and be yourself! The last one I accepted immediately. The other two – stupid, as opposed to clever, and lazy, instead of hard-working, certainly do not fit with how I see myself. And it made me think: how do I best create value for the mentee?
And this is exactly why I love mentoring. It makes me see myself from a new perspective. And I will be more ‘lazy and stupid with skill’ in my coming meeting. Lazy, to let the mentee keep the responsibility and make the choice, and stupid, to ask good questions.
What is your experience of being a mentor or a mentee? The Djoef mentor program consists of more than 600 engaged mentors and mentees working voluntarily. You are most welcome to join us at djoef.dk