Mentoring relationships are fast tracked when protégés take initiative and prepare. The relationship development plan, summarized in this video, guides you through a successful first meeting with your mentor.
- Congratulations on scheduling your first meeting with your mentor. The most successful mentoring relationships are those in which proteges take initiative, and prepare for each meeting. I'm going to guide you through a successful first meeting by highlighting my relationship development plan, RDP, which you can find in the Exercise Files. First, get to know each other, and look for similarities.
Research shows that the best way to fast track your rapport with your mentor is to determine ways you are similar to each other. Here are a sample of tools available in the RDP that will help you connect with one another. I recommend that you both take standardized instruments and share results. A standardized instrument is a questionnaire that has been validated, and measures characteristics like personality or style, such as the Myers-Briggs.
Consider taking my favorite, StrengthsFinder, and then comparing your core strengths with one another. Consider discussing your work style, quirks, and pet peeves. For example, years ago I worked for a boss named Rick whose performance was good, but work style was moody and volatile. Rick got feedback from his mentor about the impact of his volatility on our team, so Rick installed a traffic light in his office.
If his light was green it meant come on in and red meant run for the hills. It sounds silly, but it helped us all so much. The idea here is to make your communication style, mood, and expectations transparent. Be aware and communicate your work style. This will have a positive impact on the relationship you build with your mentor. Second, notice and appreciate your differences. Noticing your differences with your mentor is important, as this will help you determine what your complimentary knowledge skills and abilities are.
Finding similarities helps you bond, determining your differences helps you grow. Use the RDP to become aware of your differences and how you can learn from each other. Key areas to consider are, work style, personality/strengths, values/goals, interests/backgrounds. Third, determine your goals for yourself and your mentoring relationship. I encourage you to share your career goals with your mentor, and create a plan for how to accomplish them.
Also, consider creating some goals for the mentoring relationship itself. I highly recommend that you and your mentor work on an action research project together. An action research project is a project chosen by both of you that has a specific deliverable. For example, I worked with a mentoring program for civil engineers. The engineering mentor protege pair wrote a plan together to help communities understand water conservation.
This project gave them something concrete to work on and it was a great way to learn from each other. Fourth, determine logistics and communication. Consider discussing these questions. How do we feel about connecting and communicating on various forms of social media? How often will we meet? How will we make future plans and adjustments to meeting times? Be sure to set your next meeting with your mentor before you conclude the meeting, and always follow up and express your appreciation.
It might seem like there is a lot to remember about your first meeting with your mentor, but if you use the RDP to prepare, your first meeting will be a smash hit.