Getting the Most Out of a Mentorship Program

Engaging in a mentorship program is a proven way to have a role model to support you in achieving your full potential and goals. No wonder, demand for mentorship continues to grow, with over 71% of Fortune 500 companies running their own programs and over 90% of employees pointing it as a good reason to stay longer at a company if they were given learning opportunities.

If you have already taken the first step to ask someone to be your mentor and they accepted you as their mentee, that is already half the battle won. Winning the other half, however, requires that you drive the relationship to get the most out of it. Here are a couple of ways to help you do just that.

Take charge of your development

There will be instances during the mentorship program when you cannot seem to get the full time and attention of your mentor. This does not necessarily mean they are no longer interested in helping you. The reality is that as a working professional, your mentor likely has other things on their plate that may keep them from frequently getting in touch with you. For this reason, you need to step up and bridge the gap on your own while your mentor is occupied. 

Create a mentoring agenda that you can discuss with your mentor on your next session. This should allow you to deep dive into areas that could be relevant to your career. It is also best practice to have other mentors who can help fulfil different areas in your professional development. This ensures that you will still receive practical advice and guidance when the need arise, while also having access to other opportunities. 

Be open and honest with your mentor 

Your mentor is sincerely interested to help you succeed without expecting any official reward. The least you can do for them is to be honest and be open to accepting their feedback. There should be no place for shyness in a mentorship program

Tell them exactly what you hope to get out of the relationship and be willing to show vulnerability, especially if you are encountering roadblocks. If you want to ask something, do so without beating around the bush. Letting them know of your experiences, challenges, needs, and goals will make your mentor feel that they matter, while also enabling them to be part of the solution.  

Offer help when needed

Mentorship is not a one-way street where you are always at the receiving end. If you are always waiting for your mentor to help you out and bring you opportunities, then you are not doing a good job as a mentee. 

While your goals in getting in a mentorship program are to expand your capabilities and achieve professional results, offering your mentor help whenever they need it will not keep you from reaching those goals. Rather, providing voluntary assistance whenever they need it can also be a learning opportunity that will help your grow professionally. It can also deepen your connection with your mentor, taking the whole mentoring relationship to the next level. 

Have mutual respect

Respect is one of the pillars of a successful mentorship, and there are various ways to show it. To start with, be punctual to your appointments regardless if a session will be done via phone call or video call. This demonstrates to your mentor that you value their time, and that you are committed to uphold your end of the bargain. 

Also, while it can be tempting to approach your mentor every time a question or issue arises, it is a good idea to do it at your scheduled session. Your mentor has commitments outside of mentorship, and you do not want to take away the time they have for those other personal and professional obligations. 

Hold on to and organise the questions that you have, so that the next time you meet, you can ask the most important ones and maximise your time together.

Your mentor is invaluable to your success. Although they are there to provide a wealth of wisdom and experiences they have acquired through a series of successes and failures, they will not figure everything out for you. As a mentee, you also need to do some heavy lifting because that will be your contribution to making the mentorship program and relationship a success.