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What Exactly Is the Mentor's Role? What Is Mine?

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Tue Nov 05 2013

What Exactly Is the Mentor's Role? What Is Mine?
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Working with a mentor can be an invaluable experience for both you and your mentor. The two of you will likely learn new things about yourselves and each other that will help move you toward your career goals.

Mentors take on several roles throughout the relationship.

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  • Advisor and coach. A mentor will provide advice and guidance, sharing their experience and expertise as appropriate.  He should offer feedback and act as a sounding board for your ideas and action plan.

  • Champion and cheerleader. A mentor offers encouragement and support to help you gain the courage you need to try new things and move out of your comfort zones. She should help celebrate your successes and support you in understanding if things do not go to plan.

  • Resources and recommendations. A mentor isn’t going to “get you the next job,” but they can help you identify the resources that will help you with your personal development and growth.  This may include recommending a book or workshop, encouraging you to join a new networking organization, or maybe introducing you to a contact in their network.

  • Devil's advocate and “truth-sayer.” A good mentor will provide you with the tough feedback that you may need to hear in order to move forward.  Your mentor should push you as necessary to move outside of your comfort zone, while playing devil’s advocate to help you consider the potential consequences of your decisions and actions so as to avoid the pitfalls and predictable surprises that may occur.

As a mentee, you have your own responsibilities in the relationship, including:

  • identify initial learning goals and the measures of success for your mentoring relationship

  • be open to and seeking feedback both from your mentor and others

  •  take an active role in your own learning and driving the process

  • schedule and attend your mentor conversations

  • follow through on commitments and taking informed risks as you try new options and behaviors in support of your goals.

In your first mentoring conversations, you will want to discuss and clarify expectations with your mentor regarding roles and responsibilities.

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