You’ve built up the courage to ask someone to be your mentor. You have established your goals, expectations and needs and you have become acquainted. Now comes the part of making the most of your mentoring relationship.
As mentoring relationships are often long-term commitments, mentees and mentors need to find ways to keep meetings engaging and ensure there is continual learning and development. The mentee is responsible for steering the mentoring relationship each meeting.
Here are some types of questions you can ask your mentor to ensure your conversations re-invigorate your meetings and make the most of your mentorship:
1. Hypothetical Situations
These types of questions are helpful when the mentee is looking for insights into a specific issue or a way to build a certain skill. These types of questions allow the mentor to come up with hypothetical situations that may closely reflect a real-world situation the mentee might face. For example: ‘I tried to be a team leader last week for a group, but it was not successful. Can you give me some suggestions on how to fix this for next time?’
Allowing the mentor to tell stories about situations they have faced and career journeys they have experienced will allow for deeper understanding and exposure to different perspectives. The mentee can also steer the type of stories told by the mentor in a certain direction depending on what the mentee wants to learn about. For example, the mentee may ask ‘Tell me about a time where you faced a setback and how did you overcome it?’
3. Skill-related activities and resources
Mentees often seek out a mentor to help them build professional skills such as negotiating, networking and public speaking. Participating in role playing scenarios are an effective way of putting skills into practice and preparing for situations that the mentee does not feel confident in tackling. The mentor can provide feedback there and then, guiding the mentee in the right direction.
It is important that mentees explore their own personality characteristics and understand the way others see them. This self-exploration can help in building personal growth and professional development. Ask your mentor how they perceive you and what they believe you can improve on. Ensure you are open to your mentor’s feedback.
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