I find that many of the same themes come up in mentoring – lack of confidence, finding suitable examples for competences when applying for jobs, relationships with others, etc. And yet each mentoring experience is very different because we are all individuals with different experiences and different ways of learning. Building a relationship with the person I am mentoring is essential to know how best to mentor them and regular meetings are important to achieve this. If our sessions are sporadic then this becomes harder and the momentum can be lost. Everyone is busy and it isn’t always possible to meet face to face so a telephone call sometimes is useful to keep things moving.
I would encourage anyone thinking of becoming a mentor to give it a go. It’s very rewarding to see people grow and make progress and know that you have been a part of their journey. You don’t have to be an expert in anything in particular. Life experience and experience in the workplace is enough to get started and you will build your own style and mentoring approach from there. You will bring a different perspective, new contacts and new ideas to the partnership, all of which will be useful to the person being mentored.
The most successful mentoring partnerships I’ve had are when the mentee brings commitment to the partnership and takes ownership for their learning. If this isn’t there, then maybe it’s the partnership that’s wrong and I would encourage them to be honest about that. There’s no point continuing with a relationship that isn’t working if they can get more out of another mentor.