A Mentoring “What’s In It for Me?” Dialog

Thinking about obtaining a mentor can be a thought-filled process with uncertainty and lots of questions. “What’s in it for me?” is a common one, and I’m happy to hear that, because that’s exactly what mentoring should be addressing.

When pondering whether to join me in a mentoring endeavour recently, a now-mentee told me that he thought mentoring was a voluntary and non-profit activity. So he was questioning why I was charging for mentoring someone, and I thought that he asked an excellent question.

There are two general schools when it comes to mentoring regarding finances, one is free and one is for reasonable profit. As I told this mentee, I used to be strictly a volunteer mentor who charged nothing to the mentee. This was an extremely rewarding undertaking for me that brought me into the world of mentoring. I also at that time believed that as I learned how to properly mentor, I shouldn’t be charging someone…especially when he or she was trying to learn from me. As I continued to deliver mentoring for various people, I learned that there really wasn’t much to hold the mentee to the appointments or get them to complete assignments. That is when I began to charge mentees a fee.

I am the kind of mentor that feels that pushing the mentee into uncomfortable territory is part of what I should be doing. This forces the mentee to get out of his/her comfort zone and address things that might be career obstacles. One of the most common ones I come across is public speaking or performing elicitation exercises. To guide the mentee, I need to work with a person on exercises during our sessions, but also assign similar exercises and homework in between sessions. The financial investment on the part of the mentee is often the only thing that ensures that he or she will do what is necessary whether it be show up to a session or stand in front of amirror practicing an approach. Of course in the end, the mentee reaps the reward of the results. The other aspect of financial investment is that it should be considered a tangible investment in the mentee’s future. The information a mentor imparts on a mentee takes many forms, but at its root it represents information that provides the mentee ways to avoid career obstacles and acquire lessons learned in focused, rapid fashion. Hence, the learning allows the mentee to accelerate his/her career by cutting out some of the more pronounced ineffective or destructive decisions and pathways.

One of the less tangible  aspects of mentoring that I have seen in my mentees is the build-up of confidence to do things that might have been avoided before. This can be anything from public speaking to engaging with management to taking charge of certain situations with knowledge. Confidence is a wonderful thing in a person and the lack of it can often lead to procrastination to address something, given many opportunities to do so over time. A confident person won’t hesitate to attack what needs attacking, and that reduces wasted time and energy procrastinating and in the end accelerates forward progress.

Finally, exposure is something that I push hard on my mentees to acquire. This involves the creation of a digital footprint as well as forcing them to engage in the community dialog found on the internet, as well as just at work.  Exposure has a person at the forefront of discussion, in the thick of argument and at the tail end with questions. Exposure has each mentee visible with a solid public profile that applauds their strengths, which is often the mechanism that is used for initial networking and contact. Finally exposure provides over time name recognition that is tied to contributions to the analyst community. All of this builds the image of the mentees and prepares them for future roles.

So, if you are asking, “What’s in it for me?” Good! I hope this helps explain some of what you should expect for yourself.

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