Secrets of a great mentoring relationship
Many moons ago I started my working life as a cadet journalist. One of the senior editors on the newspaper became my mentor for the next 3 years. It was one of the most important relationships of my life. Under his wings, I became a good young journalist and a (more or less) well-adjusted human being.
I have mentored many people in various forms myself since those days and I’m convinced that most entrepreneurs who’ve built great small businesses have done with the support of one or more mentors.
Being in a mentoring relationship with someone whether as mentor or mentee (strange word, I know) can be incredibly rewarding for both parties. It certainly has been that for me as much as for the people I’ve mentored.
Keeping it in the family
I have for example mentored my daughter-in-law for the past two years through the start of her landscaping and design business (Excelsa Landscapes). I know she has gained a lot in the process, but I have as well. I feel engaged, valued and acknowledged when working with her. I’m really proud to see how she and her business have developed over the past two years. Being in some small way part of her journey these past two years gives me as much enjoyment as anything else I do in my business.
I know my daughter-in-law has grown immeasurably as a business owner in those two years. Partly as a result of our mentoring relationship, she has become a true business owner, a person who takes control of her life and accepts responsibility for delivering on her client’s needs as well as the wellbeing of her employees and contractors. She stands in the centre of her world and doesn’t hide behind others. We’ve both grown and in the process we’ve also gotten to know and appreciate each other.
What more could any of us want in life?
Different forms of mentoring
There are many different forms of mentoring:
- Some people will have a mentor for years and see them once a month.
- Some people have a mentor they talk to on the phone whenever they have a question they need to brainstorm.
- Others have a regular weekly session with their mentor.
It can take whatever form suits you and your mentor.
A client of mine has four mentors. I am one of those four, he has another person such as me in New Zealand, his accountant is one of his mentors and finally there is a retired millionaire (billionaire even) who made his fortune in a similar industry to himself. They meet for lunch once or twice a year.
Some mentoring relationships are paid, some are voluntary and some have a payment in kind arrangement.
In other words, you can fashion the relationship to suit yourself and that brings me to the final point.
You, the mentee, have to take control of the relationship. You have to decide what it is you want to get from working with your mentor and you have to ensure you get it. Do not make the mistake of instigating the relationship and then sitting back with folded arms wondering what happens next. Always enter every conversation with your mentor, able to clearly articulate what you want to walk away with from the session and what input you want from your mentor.
If you don’t yet have a mentor, as a small business owner or you’re not getting what you need out of a current mentoring relationship, it’s time to go looking for a new mentor.
Your world will change.
I promise you…
More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here
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