The biggest misconception about mentoring is that it takes up too much time. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to. Find time for mentoring in your calendar by following these few golden rules.
1. Make the time, to make time
A scattergun approach to mentoring catch-ups can overwhelm even the most diligent day planner. Creating a plan for regular catch-ups that span 6 or maybe 12 months can lock in those meetings before they risk being pushed back. Sure, things crop up, but setting a placeholder means you’ve already made space for your mentoring relationship. Taking the time to organise your calendar at the beginning also tells your mentee that you care about their time, and respect the relationship.
2. Be realistic
Have you joined the gym with every intention to go twice a week but only squeezed it in once a month? We can have the best intentions for our mentees, but if this sounds like you, setting out a realistic schedule of catch-ups can save a lot of time and energy for both parties. Just be sure to work this into the conversation with your mentee and be realistic about how much time you can offer. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t always possible, a phone catch up could still maintain momentum and show you are there for your mentee.
3. Make a mentoring agreement
Understanding what each person wants to get out of the relationship, setting clear expectations, and goals can set you up for success. A mentoring agreement defines the who, what, why and how of your mentoring plan early so that time spent in catch ups are fruitful. It can also navigate the relationship through milestones like time-bound goals, and what to do if momentum stalls.
4. Set your non-negotiables
People seek mentors for a variety of reasons. And like any human relationship, assumptions and expectations can lead people astray. Setting boundaries on what you can offer or restrictions to your capacity as a mentor can save a huge amount of time guessing, or hoping for another result. Some personal non-negotiables could be an expiry date for your mentoring commitment, not booking meetings during school holidays or being clear that sponsoring your mentee does not mean getting them a promotion.
5. It’s a two-way street
Sure, the experience and skills you share while mentoring can arm your mentee with the knowledge that will guide their career. But mentoring is a two-way street. Unless you’ve reached the pinnacle of your career or excel in all human qualities, there is always more to learn and refine.
If you’d like to get better at giving feedback, or learn about what makes Gen Zs tick, make these goals as part of your mentoring plan. Setting out clear lessons you want to glean from your mentee can save you time in taking a course or attending a conference. Don’t forget you can give your mentee homework, or ask to be referred to their network. Both of you have as much to give, and gain as each other.
Making the time to be a mentor could make huge waves in someone’s life, and career. But that connection doesn’t just serve your mentee. Paying it forward as a mentor can be hugely rewarding as well as re-energise your career. Why not get started today?