Tag Archives: mentorship

All things Mentors and Mentees should know.

Who is a mentor?

You may not know it, but you are a mentor of some sort. A Mentor is just a person that other persons look up to. A more formal definition of mentoring is the process of the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to their work career or professional development. Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. That’s a pretty broad definition of mentoring. Mentors are entrusted with such roles as a guide, confidant, and champion. They have the experience to understand you’re a person’s current developmental situation and assist with useful, reliable and constructive feedback. The person accessing the services of a mentor is a mentee.

People are different and so are the forms of relationships that exist between them. Depending on every possible correlate; gender, age, location, culture, religious or political affiliations, social, educational and economic status, the nature of each mentorship experience must be carefully developed. In this article, we shall discuss types of mentors. Afterwards, we look at the roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees. Then, we shall explore some tips on how to choose a mentor. Finally, we shall conclude with some insights on how to make the best out of a mentoring relationship.

 

 

Types of Mentors

A common worry for many people is, whether it is alright to have more than one mentor. In my opinion, I would say, absolutely. It is a good practice that should be encouraged. One could have a primary mentor and a number of secondary mentors or co-mentors whom you consult for more specialized issues such as academics, career, research, life, co-mentors in a specific field, etc. It should be clear what each mentor’s expertise is so to maximize the learning experience. For instance, if you want a career mentor, find someone who is already working in your field of interest. That way, they can provide helpful mentoring based on their exposure.

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A mentoring relationship does not have to be for life. Thus, you may have to switch between mentors and will accumulate quite a number in your lifetime. This is normal as you may outgrow the expertise of a mentor. For instance, when students in the Primary School get promoted to a higher class, they abandon some of their old teachers for newer ones. Think of it this way. When you switch jobs, e.g. from the banking sector to academia so will your mentor except if s/he has experience in both fields. In some cases, former mentees have risen to become mentors to their past mentors.

 

 

Roles and Responsibilities of Mentors

  • Mentors must make time for their mentees and should grant direct access to themselves despite their busy schedules.
  • It’s also their responsibility to help mentees achieve their goals.
  • Mentors should be specific about what services they can provide and at what pace.
  • Communication between mentors and mentees must always be clear. Mentees should be open about their experiences and needs and it is the responsibility of the mentor to ensure that mentees feel comfortable having these conversations. Listen patiently and make time for mentees to talk about their issues. Mentors should never be dismissive but find ways to provide constructive feedback.
  • Mentors should also help mentees develop the essential skills and set appropriate goals. These goals could include thinking about the next step in your career advancement. Building a relationship by working together on a project is a good wat to achieve this.
  • Mentors should get to know other aspects of a mentee’s life—their interests, family, and so on. This depends on the mentees’ willingness to disclose this information.
  • Mentors also need to share their successes and failures. It helps the mentee to see them as human. Encourage them to do the same.
  • Growing your professional networks should be another important role that mentors must play.
  • Mentors should avoid dictating choices or controlling a mentees behavior. A good mentor is never afraid of making referrals to other mentors who have better exposure than them. It is also alright to allow mentees to choose a path different from that of the mentor. Mentors should also encourage and respect the choices of their mentees.
  • Finally, every mentor needs mentoring too. That way they stay up to date with happenings in their own fields and also improve their mentoring capacity.

 

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Roles and Responsibilities of Mentees

  • Mentees must be responsible for setting the terms for the relationship from the beginning.
  • Mentees take the lead in setting up meetings with the mentor and asking questions.
  • Be teachable! Mentees must be willing to learn new things, accept suggestions and not shy away from criticisms.
  • Identify your needs. Mentors do not possess miraculous powers for figuring out what a mentee needs. You might know what you want but not how to achieve it, then the mentor can provide some guidance.
  • Be considerate of your mentor’s time. Prepare for each meeting and if possible share your topics and queries before the meeting. Be direct and always keep to time. This implies that if you have to cancel a meeting, you must inform your mentor in advance.
  • Honor the commitment. Be hardworking and try to match your mentor’s commitment to your personal development.
  • Anticipate support from your mentor, but not miracles. No one creates changes overnight.
  • Communicate clearly. Ask questions when you are in doubt about any issues. Document and share the outcomes of conversations to ensure that all parties have similar understanding and conclusions.

 

 

How to Choose a Mentor

There is no mentor market and if there were, you wouldn’t find the best mentors there. The simple reason is that great mentors are busy working on their dreams. Mentors don’t go out in search of mentees. That would be a rarity. Mentees must seek out mentors which could be quite daunting.

Finding the right mentor is the most important thing to do when a mentoring relationship is sought. If you find the wrong mentor, the whole relationship collapses, and you would have lost precious time and courage to trust future mentors. Recommendations from current mentors and associates can be helpful. The correct mentor must be interested in your personal and professional development. A person with a track record of success in mentoring others is desirable.

 

 

Common Myths to avoid when choosing a mentor

All things in life have associated myths. Myths are beliefs about things that are not true. Myths could be made up for cultural reasons but have no scientific or factual basis. They apply to beliefs about mentors and mentees. Find them below:

 

  1. The best mentors are the same sex and race. Mentorship is best where interests are similar and has nothing to do with race or sex.
  2. The more experienced and senior mentors are best. A committed inexperienced mentor is always better than an important one. A great relationship between mentor and mentee will build a lasting impression over age or experience.
  3. Mentees learn from mentors. Learning is always a bidirectional, not a unidirectional process. Mentors also learn from mentees.
  4. Mentors know best. As a matter of fact, they don’t!
  5. Mentees know best. Same as above!
  6. I’m too junior to have a mentee. Everyone can have mentees.
  7. I’m too senior to have a mentor. No one is above learning and all persons must subject themselves to mentorship.

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The 4 Cs for choosing the right mentor.

This is a formula I have found to be very helpful. The 4 Cs stand for competent, confident, committed and Click.

A competent mentor is knowledgeable and experienced in their professional field. They have to be respectable persons with a great personality, interpersonal skills, and good judgment.

Confidence is a must in the sense that mentors are not wary of their mentees. They must be willing to share their knowledge, skills, and resources especially contacts. This also entails confidence in mentee’s abilities, sharing credit with them and also putting mentees first.

Good mentors must show commitment by investing time and energy in someone else. Finally, there is no mentoring relationship without a Click. This implies the ability of both parties to get along with each other, understanding each other, and communicating effectively. With these four Cs in place, a mentorship relationship is sure to blossom.

 

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Tips on how to Sustain a Mentorship Relationship

  • Make the goals of the mentoring relationship, whether it’s for career development or project-specific clear from the very beginning. You could start by creating a contract which specifies expectations from both parties. Click here to download our template of a Mentorship Agreement Form or Mentorship Contract.
  • Mentor/mentee relationship is not for life but be sure to end it on a cordial note. Who knows where you run into each other afterward.
  • Take note of each other’s cultural perspective or dynamics. For example, in some cultures, people are more direct and in other cultures, people may find this rude. There may be other issues pertaining to food, place of meetings, greetings (shake hands, kiss or no contact) or even dressing that may be offensive. Best to avoid any sources of discomfort in order to make the best of the relationship.
  • Patience on the part of the mentor is a must. Mentees who feel frustrated by their mentors must exercise some self-restraint.
  • Have other mentors who are not in your mentor’s circle and seek second opinions when a mentor is making troubles.

4 Simple Ways to Achieve your Personal Development Goals

Formal Education is no longer enough to meet the challenges of today’s workplace. Young people feel that they lack adequate skills to compete for a few available jobs. societal problems, on the other hand, raise the performance bar for new businesses.  whether one seeks a job in already established firms or wants to grow a business, the task can be quite daunting. Either way, the road to success begins with setting Personal Development Goals.

Personal Development Goals are some concrete achievements a person aims for. They could include virtually anything from increasing study hours, socializing more or building certain skills. This article brings to you four (4) simple ways to achieve your Personal Development Goals.

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1. Focus on You

The first step begins with the individual. The uniqueness each person expresses implies that we have very different sets of abilities which may be known or unknown to us. Some skills come easily to us because we are naturally inclined to them. Other skills may take an effort to acquire. Either way, your natural skills can be found in the things that make you light up naturally. It is normal for people to live within default zones. A Default Zone is a state of life inspired by pressures of socialization or life’s circumstances. People just find themselves acting in certain ways because it’s alright in their immediate background. it is common for parents to program their children into certain lifestyles or careers.  Default Zones differ significantly from comfort zones because it’s just how things are. People are often not in any comfort and may not foresee any exit routes.

To focus on oneself, one needs to know what drives them. There is a vision in every person. An ideal situation they would rather be in. This is not a time for reality checks. The basic questions here are: “Are you satisfied with the life you have now?” “Is there a thing you would rather be doing now?” It may not always be a new fulltime job or business or habit. It could be an improvement or a little extra something. The answers you find should put a vision of the new you in your mind. Think about the new life you could have if you achieved this vision.

All that is left is to create goals that reflect what you need to do to become the new you. This could be to learn a new skill or to make some accomplishment related to personal life or work. articulate specific things you need to do in simple terms. Examples could be:

  • Contribute 20 dollars towards a cause from January till June 2018
  • Learn to drive a truck and gain all required certifications
  • Train to become a prolific public speaker

Once your personal development goals are clear, then you are ready for the next step.

2. Expose yourself to online learning resources

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Thank goodness we live in this time of information freedom. There are resources online that can help you to learn a new skill. Good news is that these resources are mostly free. Without much ado, find below 24 platforms where you can learn new skills online:

  1. Academic Earth curates online courses from the world’s top colleges and universities such as Stanford, Princeton, Yale, and Carnegie Mellon since 2009. Their mission is to make high-quality education accessible to people all over the globe, despite economic burdens.
  2. Alison is a free online learning site offering over 750 courses leading to either certification or a diploma.
  3. BBC Podcasts is an online learning website which offers free educational programming for pre-school students, primary school students, secondary school students, and adult learners.
  4. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative currently offers 27 courses, including titles such as Anatomy & Physiology, Arabic for Global Exchange, Introduction to Visual Design, and Probability & Statistics.
  5. Code.org is a targeted free education site offering full courses in computer science at no charge to the learner.
  6. Codecademy offers thousands of computer science classes free of charge. Some course titles include HTML & CSS, jQuery, Python, and JavaScript.
  7. edX was founded in 2012 through a collaboration between Harvard University and MIT. The courses offered on this premiere online learning site are curated from the top universities and organizations in the world, including UC Berkeley, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the Smithsonian, for example. Some popular programs available from edX include Cybersecurity, Marketing in a Digital World, Solar Energy Engineering, and Artificial Intelligence.
  8. The Open University on iTunes U has physical locations in the UK and delivers educational content in several formats, but one of the best ways for individuals around the world to access Open University content is through iTunesU. Courses contain a mix of audio and visuals and cover a wide variety of topics.
  9. Khan Academy is an online learning website that serves a diverse community of millions of learners by offering a wide selection of courses ranging from kindergarten to college.
  10. Open Culture finds free courses from other sources and organizes them into a list. Currently, the website lists about 1,200 free online courses from respected universities such as Oxford, MIT, and Yale.
  11. Udemy is an online learning website that allows experts to sell lessons and learners to buy them. Udemy is more focused on developing skills such as programming, animation, and Microsoft Office, as well as more unusual skills such as ethical hacking.
  12. Stanford Online is a prestigious online learning website that offers online courses in both academics and professional development.
  13. Harvard Extension is an online learning website that hosts several educational opportunities, including full degrees and graduate certificates. However, the offerings that most people will be interested in are the open enrollment courses and professional development programs.
  14. Open Yale Courses is an online learning website that hosts free recordings of lectures and other materials from Yale introductory courses. Courses are available on a wide variety of subjects, including Environmental Studies, Economics, and Music.
  15. UC Berkeley Class Central is a free education website that offers several free online courses across nine different subject areas.
  16. MIT Open CourseWare’s online learning website is part of an effort to publish all of MIT’s course materials online so that they are available to more people.
  17. University of London Podcasts The University of London’s online learning website links to podcasts and videos recorded by its affiliated colleges and institutes.
  18. University of Oxford Podcasts This is the University of Oxford’s free education website runs several regularly-updated podcasts that cover many different topics.
  19. TED Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative that creates original educational videos and allows teachers around the world to create and share their own lessons. Lessons from this free online learning site are typically short videos followed by questions and supplemental materials.
  20. Lesson Paths is an online learning website that grants access to a series of academic and recreational such as educational videos, readings, games, and quizzes on a particular subject.
  21. Memrise is an online learning website that offers several courses on vocabulary, and the most popular courses are language courses. But there are courses on other subjects as well. Most contents are free.
  22. Hubspot Academy is an online learning website where you can learn about marketing and sales training.
  23. Moose: On this platform, you can learn SEO and Search Marketing at no cost. Free learning is only available at basic levels. Advanced courses are sold.
  24. Saylor Academy is a nonprofit online learning website that offers about 100 flexible, self-paced professional and college-level courses.

Besides these, a platform like YouTube has become a formidable tool for learning and sharing. Though the contents are not organized into courses, using the search and filter functions will give a great crop of videos. Learning has never been as easy.

3. Learn from Great Achievers in your vision-line

There are people who have succeeded in all fields of life. These persons serve as mentors and have ample knowledge, skills and experience on the ground. They can help you make sense of all you have learnt and teach you how to put them to use. This is an important step for every person because the reality of how things work is often different from what theoretical knowledge states.

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The world is dynamic and most times, the clever and dynamic perform better than others. Every business is affected by various forces and it takes the relevant experience to master them all. With a good mentor, one can grow faster and achieve their goals. So here are a few tips to help you choose a great mentor:

  • Find someone who is available to share their business experiences with you
  • The Mentor must be well advanced in their field and have made some significant success.
  • The Mentor has to be aware that you consider him/her as a prospective mentor and accept you as a mentee
  • There have to be agreed timelines for mentorship sessions
  • The Mentor does not have to be the best in his line of business or work.

4. Begin Already

Little steps should be how to begin. If one plans to become a Public Speaker, start speaking with friends in little groups. Take every little opportunity to deliver a short speech. Skills could never stop growing and that is why refusing to exercise a skill will not help anyone. Constant practice will help you improve significantly.

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Fear is the biggest factor in starting new ventures where all other factors viz knowledge, skills, experience exist. One must learn to avoid taking up too much at a time. Deal with fear by making well-calculated moves. Do not be afraid to ask your Mentor for advice. Research will always come in handy when the unprecedented events happen.

When small successes are recorded, do not fail to celebrate them. These small successes will become strong motivations for future action. There will be ups and downs along the way. Whatever happens, you must learn to forge on and continue to work on your personal development goals. This may be a lifelong process but you will emerge a better person at the end.