In any mentoring relationship, discussion should be emphasized over lecturing. When a mentee makes a mistake, or has a question, mentors can use the opportunity to hold a converstion. Discussions are best because they enhance learning and help grow relationships.
Know Your Limits
Mentoring is hard work for both the mentor and mentee. However, it's important to not overwork yourself in a mentoring relationship. Set boundaries early on (e.g. how often you will meet, how much work is to be expected), and if you find yourself getting worn out, let your mentoring partner know. The point of a mentoring relationship is to foster learning, not exhaustion!
Mentees should aim to keep an open mind throughout the mentoring process. Try different methods of learning and types of activities that your mentor may suggest, even if you aren't sure that they will work. Being receptive and flexible can drastically improve your mentoring experience.
Don't Overdo Feedback!
One of the main functions of a mentor is to provide feedback to his or her protégé. However, mentors should be careful not to provide too many pieces of criticism at once. Giving too much feedback can overwhelm the mentee, and dilute the importance of each point. When considering feedback, mentors need to value quality over quantity!
Follow Best Practices
When entering into a mentoring relationship, take advantage of the thousands of guides, studies and articles on the topic. There exists a wealth of knowledge online that can be utilized to improve your mentoring experience. In fact, we have our own list of online mentoring resources for you to use: http://mentor.unm.edu/online-resources
Mentoring is a long term process, so it's normal to not see results immediately. Don't get discouraged by a lack of progress; keep attending and arranging meetings with your mentor or protégé. Resilience and determination are keys to successful mentoring outcomes.
Be Willing to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Protégés and mentors alike need to be willing to step out of their comfort zones. Those who can consider new ideas and concepts will be most able to reap benefits from a mentoring relationship.
Try Different Mentoring Techniques
Mentoring doesn't just have to consist of discussions between a mentor and mentee. Try role playing, attend a special event or conference, or brainstorm ideas on paper. Varying what you do in a mentoring reltionship can help keep things interesting and enhance learning.
Keep it Professional!
As a mentor, it's a good idea to maintain a professional image for your mentee. Especially in workplace based mentoring relationships, a mentee will often view the mentor as a blueprint for achieving sucess. Mentors can use their own professional accomplishments and career to help guide their protégé towards acheiving their goals.
A key element of successful mentoring taking time to talk about both successful and unsuccessful past experiences. When a mentor shares events from his or her past, the protégé can learn methods to improve their own chances of success, and pitfalls to avoid in the future.