Questions to Ask Yourself Before Agreeing to Be a Mentor
Mentoring someone can feel like a drag, but done right, it can also help you grow along with your mentee
A good mentor can be wonderful. And research suggests they can be a life-changer: Having an adviser, sounding board, and cheerleader can lead to improved performance, more advancement, and a more favorable self-image. Over time, mentorship can help the mentee cultivate a positive outlook in work and life, which has been linked to better health, less stress, and a higher salary.
For the person on the other side of the relationship, though, mentoring can be — well, kind of a drag. A recent Saturday Night Live sketch hilariously nailed the misery of it with a fireside horror story: An unsuspecting ad agency man was roped into a coffee with, he darkly recalls, “a 22-year-old recent college grad” — pause for dramatic effect — “and aspiring filmmaker.”
Not every mentoring relationship involves inane movie ideas and endless texts to “pick your brain.” But your time, in and out of the office, is valuable. It’s fair to be skeptical about donating it to someone you don’t know well. That’s especially true if the person who’s asking for mentorship isn’t on the same career trajectory or is too demanding or is someone you just can’t seem to click with.
But done right, a mentoring relationship can benefit the mentor, too. Research shows that people who identify as mentors report more personal satisfaction and organizational recognition, faster promotion rates, and stronger perceptions of career success and purpose than those lacking mentorship experience.
Agreeing to take on a mentee shouldn’t be a snap decision. A bad match can drain your time and energy with little payoff for anyone involved. But if you ask yourself the right questions, you can get a clearer understanding of what you’ll be putting into this relationship, what your challenges will be, and what you want to help your mentee achieve. Here’s…