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How to be a better project management mentor (and mentee)

2 women having an informal discussion

Last week, I had the privilege to join in a very interesting Twitter conversation about mentoring with two leadership experts – Dr Liane Davey and Martin Headley.

Liane is the bestselling author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, & Get Stuff Done, while Martin is a leadership couch based in the UK.

We talked about helping project managers become better motivators and how good mentors are hard to find.

I’ve been both mentored and a mentor and decided to put together a list of things that can help you become both a better mentor and a better mentee (is that even a word?).

Being a better mentor

  1. Being asked to be someone’s mentor is a privilege; treat it as such. If you don’t have enough spare time to do a good job, it is better to turn it down than do it half-heartedly
  2. Respond to your mentee in a timely manner
  3. Meet face to face as often as possible
  4. Be willing to share your failures, as well as your successes
  5. Be diplomatic when giving feedback
  6. Give plenty of notice if you wish to stop the relationship

Being a better mentee

  1. Keep in regular contact with your mentor, even if you’re not looking for advice. As they are likely to be busy, it’s good to build a connection outside of the mentoring relationship
  2. Make sure your requests for advice/guidance/help are within your mentor’s area of expertise. After all, there’s no point asking a project management mentor for guidance on legal issues
  3. Respond to your mentor in a timely manner
  4. Accept feedback gracefully, even if it isn’t what you want to hear
  5. Give plenty of notice if you wish to stop the relationship

 

A good mentoring relationship is like gold dust. When you have one that works, it can have a truly profound effect on both parties so is worth nurturing. For a mentor the reward is in the giving and passing on your hard-won knowledge. And for the mentee, a guiding hand and invaluable expert advice. Overall mentorships benefits society at large – after all, those receiving the guidance today, are set to become the leaders of the future.

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