Making Time to Mentor

2014-0808TimeUpon hearing from your manager that you now have the new responsibility of mentoring someone, you may respond with the concern of one more responsibility draining away your valuable time. Over the past several years, organizations have reduced ranks and asked their employees to do more with less: fewer resources, less money and less time.

Mentoring, however, is such an important part of the organization’s future that it should be prioritized. A new mentor might be surprised that it takes very little time to mentor and the rewards a mentor can gain from such a relationship. Using some of the following approaches, a mentor may find that a mentoring relationship can be a pleasant experience that takes very little time from her schedule.

Have an ad hoc 1-on-1

The traditional approach to mentoring is to meet on a regular basis so that the mentor can formally coach the mentee on all of the things the mentee needs to learn. Some people envision a weekly meeting, requiring preparation and potentially follow-up time to answer questions.

In reality, mentoring doesn’t need to be that frequent. Having an ad hoc meeting or scheduling something every few weeks can be sufficient. If you are sharing your knowledge or experience with someone, it shouldn’t require significant preparation time either.

For more information, check out How to Mentor for Maximum Benefit

Have a mentoring lunch

Whether you schedule something on a weekly basis or have something less frequent, you can combine the session with lunch. Some companies with formal mentoring programs will allow you to expense an occasional lunch with your mentee. Even if they don’t, you could go to lunch and each pay for your own, or brown bag it and meet in a conference room. You both have to take the time to have lunch, so coupling your mentoring with a casual lunch can kill two birds with one stone.

Take a coffee break

Mentoring doesn’t have to take an entire hour. You could grab your mentee and see if they want to take a break. Talking on your walk to the break room and while you each enjoy a beverage over fifteen minutes can help strengthen your relationship and allow you to share information.

Related post: The Secret to Giving Advice As a Mentor

Share an article

Whether you troll through your twitter feed for articles or simply read an occasional magazine online, you’re bound to run across an article that you think will interest your mentee. Send your mentee the link to the article with a simple note saying “Thought you might be interested in this.” You might even tell him why it could apply to your organization or his career.

Refer a “guest mentor”

No matter how great of a rapport you develop with your mentee, you can’t possibly provide all of the information she needs to develop her career. Hopefully the mentee meets with others for supplementary knowledge. You can refer the mentee to other people with specialized knowledge.

It is important that the mentee and guest mentor don’t perceive this gesture as a way of dumping the mentee on someone else. Bringing someone else in can provide additional information that you can’t provide, but you need to stay involved and continue taking the lead role in mentoring.

Learn from your mentee

It has always been my belief that everyone has something to teach others. You may have many years of experience over your mentee, but if you are a good listener and ask the right questions, you might find that your mentee can teach you a few things. If the mentee is a young millennial, maybe she knows a lot about smart phone apps, social media, or specific internet sites that can make you more productive.

Enjoy the interaction

Taking on the responsibility of being a mentor can take up some of your valuable time. But if you take an interest in your mentee’s development and listen well, you may gain some satisfaction, learn some new things, and develop a professional relationship that enhances your professional life along with that of your mentee.

Do you make enough time to mentor?

If you would like to learn more about mentoring between Millennials and Baby Boomers, get Lew and Jeff’s book The Reluctant Mentor on Amazon.

I welcome your questions and comments.

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