When you’ve been in the game for a long time, it’s easy to forget how it felt when you were first getting started. While we always encourage mentors to ask mentees what they’re hoping to improve upon or learn, a heads up never hurts. Whether you’re in HR creating a mentorship for your company, or you’re about to be a mentor for the first time (Mazel Tov!), we’ve provided five common requests from mentees below. If you’re wondering what the kids want these days from a corporate mentorship, here’s the intel:
To Expand Their Network
This comes as no surprise. When you’re a fresh-faced newbie at work, it seems like everyone’s in on the joke but you. And they might be! Trying to make new connections can intimidate even the most gregarious up-and-comers. Make it a goal to introduce your mentee to someone new at the company or in the industry at regular intervals– monthly, for example!
To Better Navigate Company Culture
Mentors may know the ropes at their company so well that they’ve actually adapted the way they do business to suit their workplace. Provide mentors and mentees with suggested questions such as “What communication style do you find most successful in this office?” “What makes the culture here unique?” “What aspects of the company culture are different than at our competitors’ offices?”
To Learn “What Not to Do”
Mentors often expect to give guidance on how to approach opportunities and challenges in the office. But mentees may be more worried about making a misstep that they don’t see coming. Encourage mentors to share personal stories of mistakes they’ve made in the past and what they learned from them. Don’t take for granted than any incoming, young talent will know the no-nos that seem obvious to more seasoned colleagues.
To Gain Knowledge about Industry Specific Challenges
When you’re new to a particular industry, whether it’s your first job out of college or a change of direction, you may not have considered the specific challenges that your new vocation presents. One question that might prompt useful feedback is “What problems have you come up against that you believe are specific to this industry?” Mentors should think of themselves as the canaries in the coal mine– let your mentee know when there’s trouble ahead, so they’ve got some time to brainstorm a solution.
To Know How They Are Perceived by Colleagues
Mentees may be the most sensitive and defensive about this particular lesson, but the truth isn’t always easy. Make sure mentors know to deliver positive feedback about the mentee before suggesting personal attributes they could work on. Mentors can also display empathy by explaining how they adapted their own behaviors or demeanor in the workplace to achieve success. Of course this is not the time to belabor personality traits, but more to encourage an attitude that presents the kind of ambition, enthusiasm, and professionalism that will get the mentee noticed.