Have you ever been a mentor? Have you ever been a mentee? More than likely, the answer to both of these questions is “yes.” Many times, we don’t see ourselves as either. Yet, if you look back over your career, you can probably identify times when you have served in both capacities
Usually, June marks the time each year when Dot kicks off our Formal Mentor program. Things look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but our Training & Development team is currently working hard to give Dot employees a remote/virtual mentor program that will be launched later in 2020.
Our Formal Mentor program pairs individuals together in a way that we hope can help each develop. The program targets those with a strong development plan, looking to broaden their skillset. Whether you’re in our Formal Mentor program, or looking for an informal mentor, it’s important to think about what you’re seeking in the relationship.
Is there a goal or skillset you’re looking to gain a new perspective on? Are you exploring career interests? Thinking about what you hope to accomplish through your time together sets you and your mentor up for success.
So, what can help you build a strong mentoring relationship? Commitment, patience, and open communication are a few things that come to mind.
Building a Strong Mentoring Relationship
Commitment & Patience
Commitment is key to reaching your development goals, as well as to the mentoring relationship.
Building a strong mentoring relationship takes time, especially if you’re in the formal program and paired with someone you may not know well, so be patient as you get to know each other.
We asked the team members from the Women’s Leadership Group (WLG) strategy team focused on increasing role models and mentors their thoughts and experiences and they agreed.
“[Being paired with someone of] a different career background and leadership style than my own…taught me to look at things with different lenses and perspectives and helped me to gain valuable insight that I still use today,” shared Ashley Barnett, Accounting Manager.
Open communication is also key to success. Another member of the WLG team, Replenishment Transfer Manager Kaitlin Quinn, said, “honesty and transparency are the keys to a successful mentoring relationship. As tough as it is, your mentor can’t fully help you get to where you want to be unless you let your guard down and be truly honest about where you’re at, what your struggles are, and what you want out of your career.”
Warehouse Recruiting Manager Tabetha Spencer agreed, “Whether you are the mentee or mentor, even if there isn’t a direct question or problem to talk about, keeping that line of communication and support going is important.”
Mentees aren’t the only ones who grow from a mentoring relationship. Many times, the mentor learns about themselves as well, developing their coaching skills along the way.
Barnett shared, “Serving as a mentor has really helped me strengthen my coaching and leadership skills. In addition, it helped me to see the workplace through new eyes and I felt a sense of personal growth as we reflected on [my mentee’s] successes and challenges.”
In our Formal Mentor program, we define mentoring as “a conversation with a purpose.” When you know the purpose of why you’re in the relationship, and what you want out of it, you’re already headed in the right direction.
So whether you’re a mentee or a mentor, in our formal program, or an informal relationship, keep your purpose front of mind, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable— because that’s when we learn the most.