Many confuse coaching with mentoring. Even I learned the hard way when I ventured to start a mentoring programme.
A lot of younger and sometimes older people reach out daily requesting to be mentored, whereas they don’t want a mentor at all, what they actually need is a coach.
You see mentoring is a relationship between a more experienced person who acts as trusted advisor and a mentee usually over a sustained period of time. Most mentorships outside the workplace are informal. With mentorship the mentee is responsible for the goals and outcomes, what you achieve from the relationship is actually what you put into it.
It’s actually unnecessary to request to be mentored. Just like friendships, mentoring relationships will grow once a relationship is nurtured. Like every relationship, mentoring requires work, especially from the mentee.
If you have a mentoring opportunity or you approach a prospective mentor, then try your best to establish a relationship, you can do this by building rapport.
Most mentors who still work will have busy schedules, it’s good to establish their availability before reaching out. Avoid long messages or emails requiring long responses. If trust is established or better still you are introduced, you should arrange a face to face meeting or place a call to them. Don’t use a messenger service like WhatsApp or Facebook unless agreed. Challenge them with interesting questions, good mentors will enjoy helping you out. Use your time with them wisely. Remember a mentor is a trusted advisor offering guidance, if you have a knowledge and skills gap, you probably also need a trainer.
Once a relationship is established, your mentor may start calling you even more, to see how things are going with you. Always remember why you approached them in the first place. I have mentors who have never called me, and that’s ok, so don’t expect nothing but to learn from their wealth of experience.
When I first started getting mentoring requests, I thought would be overwhelmed and boy was I wrong. Now, I keep saying yes because I have seen that 99.9% of them do nothing afterwards and you guessed right as a result, nothing happens.
If you don’t feel up to taking charge of and cultivating a relationship with a prospective mentor then you probably need a coach.
A coach is more formal and works with you on achieving a specific goal. A coach, through a structured process will help you achieve your goals much faster than if you were to do it yourself. lf you need that push and accountability partner, that will be a coach. A coach could even combine coaching sessions with a training programme if that suits the goal you are trying to achieve.
You won’t have to worry about calling, the coach will schedule your sessions. Sounds too good right? I am sure some of us are thinking why didn’t I get a coach all this while?
It’s never too late, you only need to find one that suits your goals and hire their services!
One thing both coaching and mentoring have in common is that they are both opportunities for development, you cannot coach or mentor an unwilling party.
So next time you think, I need a mentor, think again. If you are not ready to work on building a relationship then consider hiring a coach, to get you the results you want much faster.
I hoped this helped someone?
P.S. You can’t force a relationship, if you aren’t able to build rapport with a prospective mentor, find someone else. Rapport is a key success factor.
P.S.S. The right mentor has some time to spare for you, if they are too busy, find someone else.