Making the Most of Mentoring Relationships
By Robin Sangston
Robin Sangston is VP, Chief Compliance Officer at Cox. She was awarded WICT Southeast Chapter’s 2015 Mentoring Award, is a past President of WICT Atlanta and served on the National Board.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of finding a good mentor early on in your career. This point really hit home with me recently at a company meeting where Jim Kennedy, our Chairman of the Board and grandson of our founder James Cox, commented about the challenges he faced earlier in his career when he was assuming more responsibility within Cox Enterprises and how he bemoaned the fact that he didn’t have a mentor. In fact, he said one of the reasons we have such a robust mentoring program at Cox today is because he felt he didn’t have adequate mentors to turn to when he needed advice and wanted to ensure Cox employees had ample access to mentors! If Jim Kennedy, a universally admired and undeniably successful business leader, acknowledged his need to have a mentor early in his career, then that is compelling evidence that we all can benefit from a mentor!
But once you find a mentor, how do you make the most of the situation? Here’s a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts for the mentee:
DO take charge of the relationship by scheduling regular meetings with your mentor
DO establish trust as quickly as possible
DO be respectful of your mentor’s time and schedule
DO come to meetings prepared
DO establish the ground rules of the relationship early on, especially with respect to confidentiality
DO set one or two specific goals to work on over the course of the relationship and track progress toward those goals
DO show appreciation toward your mentor
DON’T have unrealistic expectations, e.g., most mentors are not going to be able to get you promoted or a new job
DON’T breach confidentiality if that is one of the ground rules
DON’T disrespect your mentor’s time by showing up late or cancelling at the last minute
DON’T expect your mentor to do all of the “heavy lifting,” i.e., you need to lay the groundwork by doing your homework and being prepared for meetings
DON’T be impatient – all relationships take time to develop so give your mentoring relationship time to blossom!
If you have questions about how to find a mentor or work with one once you have one, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .