Under a formal mentoring program, both mentors and mentees need to know exactly how the program will work. Some organizations have been doing this for a long time and have various documents for the mentor and mentee to complete. If not, then they need to agree on a plan, such as the length, expectations, goals, process, and roles. Mentors need to be ready to offer incentives and positive reinforcement, while mentees have to be willing to be taught and learn. While the mentees can learn by watching, it is more effective if the mentor also quizzes his or her mentees and encourages them to ask questions. Did the mentee understand why the mentor used this method and not the other? Does the mentee need to see the procedure repeated?
I learned a very valuable lesson during one of my internships with one of my favorite mentors. I had already done one project for the manager and was given a new assignment, which required that I review the budget. I was so afraid that I didn’t understand budgets that I did all the research without looking at the actual budget I was given. When I was finished, the manager met with me to discuss the project. I was so proud of the presentation I put together for him—until he told me he looked like a fool without the actual budget information. I was so worried that he had gotten in trouble because of my work. He then told me he knew I didn’t review the budget and added that information himself.
What did I learn from this mistake? I learned that I was getting too cocky and I needed to ask for help if I didn’t understand something. Now, I always check the budget on all projects and I ask questions when I need more information.
Stay tuned for Tip #4 coming next week!
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