Lisa Alexander had some amazing insights yesterday in her guest post, and I'm following up on the heels of that with 3 keys to an effective mentoring relationship.
1) Write down what your mentor says.
One of my consistent habits is to write things down constantly. This includes everything from random thoughts, ideas, quotes, and definitely things told to me by mentors. Quite honestly when I am the one doing the mentoring and the person records nothing that I say, it's a huge red flag to me about how serious they are.
2) Work harder than your mentor.
As Lisa said yesterday, if the mentor is doing more cheering than you, something's wrong. My boss Kathryn, (my manager at NextJob) often says that a major key to detecting a client's urgency in getting reemployed, and also their seriousness about coaching is if at any time we are doing more work than they are. In this case, something's wrong. Your mentor isn't there to do all the hard work for you.
I've assigned my mentees or my coaching clients projects many times. A huge red flag to me is when they ask me when I can help them type their project, or make copies of things for them, or e-mail them certain things, or provide supplies. I would laugh but usually I'm too mad to laugh.
3) Don't complain that it doesn't work for you.
Years ago I completed a 2 year coaching program for life and church coaching myself under the leadership of another coach. He said something important at the beginning: "Don't you dare tell anyone this program didn't work for you if you didn't follow what you were supposed to do down to the last detail."
I did that program down to the last detail and guess what, it worked for me. Most things do when we do them to a "t". The issue is, most people tailor things like this to their own whims, creating ala carte mentoring or coaching and then want to go tell their friends and associates, "I tried that but it didn't really work for me..."
There are no words to describe the frustration when you hear that kind of utter nonsense.
The bottom line with this and most anything in life is that you get out of it what you put into it.