Quick Tips

Championing, including mentorship, does not need to be overly complicated or onerous. It is simply a partnership between someone with valuable experience, and someone who wants to learn and benefit from that experience. It can be formal or informal.

Mentors provide support and motivation by sharing their knowledge, skills and perspective with the mentee, who often has less experience. Their main role is to help the mentee develop in her career by focusing on her issues and goals. These could range from developing confidence, overcoming perceived weaknesses, and building her capacity for growth.

Champions take mentorship a step further. They take an active interest in another person’s career, speak up on their behalf when it can help them to advance, and advocate for them when it comes to career changes, promotions, or other career developments.

As a mentee in one of these relationships, you will gain a trusted sounding board and the opportunity to learn from an experienced ally. These interactions differ from straightforward teaching because they create opportunities to collaborate, solve problems together, and achieve specific goals.

Successful championing and mentoring relationships typically include:

  • A firm understanding of a mentee's learning needs and objectives;
  • A clear outline of expectations and roles;
  • A certain amount of structure;
  • Excellent communication;
  • A high level of trust regarding confidentiality; and
  • Mutual respect for each other's time.

Here are some specific guidelines to ensure a rewarding mentoring experience for both parties:

For Mentors

Do

  • Discuss and agree upon the learning goals of your mentee at the outset.
  • Establish objective measures to gauge success.
  • Mutually agree to an agenda for each meeting, whether in person, by phone or virtually.
  • Provide ongoing feedback and concrete suggestions, based on your experience and wisdom.
  • Listen closely and build trust.
  • Ask questions…challenge with a smile…and try to lead your mentee to 'ah-ha' moments.
  • Be authentic and candid – share both your good and bad experiences.
  • Guide your mentee on how to find the answers she seeks if you don't know.
  • Refer her to other useful contacts and resources.
  • Respect confidentiality in all discussions.
  • Review and discuss progress against the goals periodically.
  • Be a role model and source of motivation and inspiration.
  • Celebrate successes!

Don't

  • Make decisions for your mentee.
  • Get caught up in details.
  • Try to run her business.
  • Respond to her questions and challenges before reflecting.
  • Provide advice on issues if you do not have expertise.
  • Miss any planned meetings.
  • Become distracted when in discussions.
  • Fail to communicate clearly and regularly.

For Mentees

Do

  • Clearly articulate your learning needs and objectives at the beginning.
  • Communicate how you best learn – are you a visual, auditory or tactile learner?
  • Respect your mentor's time, and be flexible about meeting times.
  • Be organized.
  • Focus on specific goals during discussions, not business headaches of that day.
  • Evaluate your mentor's advice and guidance and come up with your own decisions.
  • Have an open mind when listening to your mentor's advice and guidance and test her or his ideas.
  • Be accountable. Complete any
    agreed-upon tasks.
  • Respect the confidentiality of all discussions.
  • Share your own experiences…and try to be a source of inspiration to your mentor, too!

Don't

  • Expect your mentor to have all the answers. No one is an expert at everything.
  • Think your mentor's role is to run your business.
  • Inundate your mentor with minutiae unrelated to your learning goals.
  • Ask her or him for things that go beyond the agreed upon commitment.
  • Be a no-show for meetings.
  • Use your mentor to solicit business.

Here are some suggested guidelines to support productive championing relationships:

For Champion

  • Clearly discuss and agree upon the career goals being pursued.
  • Mutually agree on the expectations from the championing relationship.
  • Establish objective measures to gauge success.
  • Listen closely and build trust.
  • Ask questions, but be positive and encouraging.
  • Determine what kinds of opportunities she would like to access with your support.
  • Refer her to other useful contacts and resources.
  • Respect confidentiality in all discussions.
  • Review and discuss progress against the goals periodically.
  • Be a role model and source of motivation and inspiration.

For Individual Being Championed

  • Clearly articulate your career goals at the beginning.
  • Communicate how you ideally see your career developing.
  • Have an open mind when listening to your champion’s advice and guidance.
  • Be accountable – indicate clearly when a career suggestion does not work for you.
  • Respect your champion’s time, and be flexible about meeting times.
  • Respect confidentiality of all discussions.
  • Review and discuss progress against the goals periodically.
  • Express appreciation for the motivation and support provided by your champion.
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