Including the word mentor & mentee to my vocabulary is such a new phase for me. It was one I was never really such fan of – for unknown reasons, one of which might be the fact that I never really saw it as a must-have. Or maybe I did, but just from a distance. I took the good I saw in people, that I wanted to emulate, but didn’t see the need to have a mentor-mentee relationship.

While I’ve definitely successfully guided people through different phases – I often avoid the title.

Interestingly, I’m at the point in my life and career where I think it’s incredibly important. And perhaps much more surprisingly, people have begun to look at me as a possible mentor. In recent times, I’ve gotten so many requests about acting as a mentor to others. Many of these I have shied away from accepting because I’m like ‘hold up, uhmm, I have no idea what exactly you want from me’. But then, I recently accepted to act as a formal mentor to someone – and I think it could have gone a whole lot better.

All of these factors, is the reason for this post. I know I can’t hide from these mentorship requests, and I genuinely think it’s a great honour. So it’s important that I figured out all the tips to make it work.

Not forgetting the fact that more recently, I have seen a number of mentor-mentee relationships which have been super impactful. And the ability to pay forward to someone else all of your knowledge (especially those very much younger than you) is something so beautiful.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need Younger Friends

So, let’s get into it shall we? 

If like me, you were not a fan of the word mentor, let’s break it down. Simply put – a mentor is a trusted person whose advice and guidance you rely on. A mentor is one who consciously makes him/herself available for the mentee, keeping the latter’s best interests at heart.

Should a mentorship relationship last forever? Not necessarily. Like everything else in life, there are times and seasons. And so while one could last for years, another could last for a couple of hours. The former length of time is probably a bit more common as it provides an opportunity to build a solid relationship and see real growth and development.

What kind of Mentors are there?

When we think mentors, we often think people older than us – and that’s not entirely wrong. But mentors could include our mates and even people younger than us. Remember it’s about the experience and not the age.  So we’ve got the:

~ Peer Mentors: usually in the same organisation, company or establishment , helping to settle in and learn the ropes, usually for a short time.

Related: Why Everyone Needs a Frolleague at Work

~ Career Mentors: this is a more common sort of mentorship. And in many cases are a longer term kind of mentorship, providing all sorts of guidance, support and network throughout a career journey.

~ Life Mentors: well, as can be deduced from the name, this is a mentorship that cuts across all life areas – relationship, well-being, finances, career. These may seem like such big shoes to fill as one person may not easily tick all the boxes. But the mentor need not have all the answers, but rather is able to guide you to finding all of the answers.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s see how to be a good mentor.

1. Believe in the Mentee personally and professionally!

This I think is absolutely key. If you do not believe in the mentee, it’s an absolute waste of time. As a mentor, you must have a strong belief in your mentee’s untapped or raw potential – seeing the possibility of that being tapped to the highest levels. Your role is to push the bar, towards achieving this, such that things that once seemed impossible, become absolutely do-able!

2. Be Committed & Patient

Being a mentor is no child play! It will take time, it will be inconvenient at times, it will test your patience! But, if you’ve offered to help someone, you need to follow through with the promise of being available and committed – especially when you think your mentee may not be giving it everything and could definitely do much better.

3. Set Clear Expectations, Listen & be Emotionally Present

If you do not know where you are going, you would never reach your destination. I think that’s an African proverb that is oh-so-apt. What exactly are you seeking to achieve with this relationship. As a mentor, what are your expectations of the mentee? Make this absolutely clear. Asides just having clear expectations, there should be a clear idea of how such expectations are to be measured. New job or position? Achieving a task? Learning a skill? Quitting a bad habit?

As a mentor, sometimes you tend to do a lot of talking. But, the ability to listen is such an important skill. Listen to what is both being said and unsaid. Be emotionally present and sensitive to decipher hidden thoughts that the mentee may be unable to voice out loud, but could potentially affect output.

4. Have your own Mentors & Network

If you keep giving out without receiving, you’re sure to get empty real quick! And we can agree how much of a disaster that would be. So, do not neglect yourself. Ensure you have your own mentors, whose wisdom you’re also tapping from. Asides that, it’s important to maintain a wide network – particularly as a life / career mentor. Mentorship is really not about having all the answers, but being able to connect your mentee with the right answers. Having a wide network ensures that this is the case!

5. Be a Role Model

A good mentor is a role model and leads by example. Not least because, the mentee sees, and is able to take away so much more from the behind-the-scenes of your life than the things that are said directly to him/her. A mentor should abide by the ‘do as i do, and not do as I say‘.  So as a mentor, it’s imperative to ensure that you are worth emulating and your advice would be worth its weight in gold.

6. Don’t get bugged down by structure

With mentorship relationships, it’s easy to get bugged down by structure, and in my opinion, this could often be more of a fail. There should be sufficient understanding between both parties to allow for a certain level of flexibility. So while it’s great to meet up occasionally and record progress, creating an overly rigid structure such as frequency and place of meetups, excel sheets for progress and structure for feedback could make the relationship feel more of a chore.

7. Celebrate achievement

I don’t think I’ll want a mentor who is constantly pushing and criticising, without taking time to celebrate any of my achievements – no matter how little. This spurs the mentee to know that something is being done right – even if there’s room for much more growth. So, be the mentor that celebrates every little milestone! And you’d see your mentee desire to achieve so much more – if only to receive a tap on the back from you.

In all of this, it’s important to be honest with the mentee. A mentor is not a person who ought to sugar coat the truth and cheer the mentee on needlessly. But with honesty, yet love and best wishes a mentor pushes and advocates for the mentee to attain and realise their full potential. Finally, it’s okay to realise when a mentorship relationship and failed or is not achieving the said objectives. Again with clear expectations, this should be measurable. And and at this point, it’s okay end the mentorship and if possible link the mentee with someone else who may be able to help. After all, nothing last forever….

As for Mentees, a couple of points:

~ Be smart enough to realise when you need a mentor. Do not attempt to navigate this life on your own. People have gone ahead before you and are able to make the path easier. But you need to be smart enough to know which mentor would suit you and to pick the right ones.

~ Chase your Mentors! – Having realised, number 1 above, it’s time for the chase. Your mentors are likely to be very busy people and may not be as readily available as you would like. Keep chasing. Make it work!

~ Put in the work: Sorry to say this, but your mentors are not there to do the work for you. In fact they are likely to push you to do more work. So you have to be willing! A lot of what they will offer is guidance.

~ Ask Questions! – Another African proverb says ‘a person who asks questions, never misses his way’. Don’t be shy to ask the silliest of questions. Your mentors aren’t there to make fun of you.

And with that, this post is a wrap, but not before I hear your views on this. What do you think of mentors and mentorship. Do you have some? Are you a mentor to people? What other tips can you add. Please share your wisdom for all!

Love, 

Kachee.. Xx


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24 Comments

  1. Eniola Lofindipe

    July 17, 2017 at 09:02

    I love how diverse your posts are, makes for an exciting read every time. Well done girl. About mentor-mentee relationship, like you, I never liked the idea of anyone being in my business. I tell you what I want you to know and move on. But I have learned that you can’t do life alone. And like you rightly said, people have gone ahead of us and can help lead others.I have quite a number of distant mentors, those I learn from through their interviews and books. Maybe I’ll finally a get one-one mentor soon. Although I feel like I might run away after a while. Lol! And you don’t need to have one mentor for everything, that would be putting too much pressure on the mentor. No one is perfect, neither is your mentor.Right now, I’d really like a Business and blogger mentor.Thecuriousmum.WordPress.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 17, 2017 at 11:52

      Eni, thanks!I think I’ve also come to the realisation that we can’t do life alone – and your support is everything! True true at not having a mentor for everything. That will be way too much. Even the ‘life mentors’ would prob only act as a guide to other people. Loool @ run away. I actually really get what you mean! Hahaha. I think I’d like a mentor to push my goals out of me – I can be too complacent if there’s no pressure.

      Reply
  2. RuthsTravel:Because I Believe

    July 17, 2017 at 10:30

    This is prayers answered for me; no joke. I had some confusions about some issues and I legit asked God for help. I just got cleared. I’ve mentored people from my teenage years 🙈 and somehow, how I grew up made it difficult for me to accept that at other points, I was going to need to be the “student”. If we don’t embrace humility, we’d miss out on a lot of really good stuff. I won’t over emphasize the validity of finding a means to be replenished as one who gives out to people.To keep it relatively short, I’d just share 2 points:I think one mistake mentees make is taking a mentor as a god! Some mentees believe that because they hold this perception about you, once the mentor-mentee relationship begins, all they should get from you is perfection. They expect that you show up always, you have all the answers, you are flawless in all your doings. It isn’t possible! Mentors are human beings; prone to error, and challenges they can’t handle at the time. Don’t require God from a man.Still on this, I don’t think any mentor should strive to be God because of the expectations of a mentee. Mentorship isn’t just something that benefits the mentee because every step along the way, you are being stretched as a mentor; whether you notice it or not. You learn so much more. I’m not saying a mentor should be complacent or resist the need to grow; don’t think you are in this relationship to please the mentee. Don’t think you have to do all outside your abilities to keep/hoard a person. Don’t begin to stretch yourself in ways that’d mar you/ other relationships because you want to “be there” for this person.I am a firm believer in God’s leading and I believe that whether you’re a mentor/mentee, you should trust God’s leading on who to approach or who to receive under you. Because someone looks good or looks like they can do a good job doesn’t mean they’re right for you. You see the judges on reality tv shows like The Voice? Most of them are gooooood at what they do but when it comes to choosing a mentor, you pick someone who can bring out the best in you. For me, I believe only God can lead me right, whether it’s through what we call instincts or advice, I trust Him to lead me, anyway.Kachee is so right. This relationship is a commitment that requires time, communication, transparency, etc. Even though this is subject to divorce, you want to make sure you understand what you’re undertaking so that whether it’s minutes, hours, years, or for a lifetime, the seconds you spent in this was worth the while.http://becauseibelieveblog….

    Reply
  3. 'Dara

    July 17, 2017 at 11:31

    Kachi, I think you should add “Life Coach” to the ‘About me’ section the blog here and to the bio of all your social media accounts. (This is not even a flatter). Let me soak all of these wisdom in and come back to comment

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 17, 2017 at 11:32

      Oh my days Dara, this just made me smile for real (but we know it’s a flatter – haha!). Thank you so much! You really are amazing.

      Reply
  4. Oluwatoceen!

    July 17, 2017 at 12:05

    Kachee!! Great post. I have lots of distant mentors that have walked the path that I want to thread upon. The thing is I am not sure about the one- on -one type. I recently gifted one of these mentors something and she followed me on Instagram. My heart leaped when I saw the follow request. Like God, I didn’t gift her to follow me, who sent me. Over consciousness was doing me, I had to refrain myself from commenting on her post ( which I would have done before) . The struggle is real. But the truth is I really need her wealth of wisdom but I am not sure how to go about it. So it doesn’t look like I bribed her as she really doesn’t owe me anything. Am just like, am I sure I am ready for the relationship. Sigh!!I know, my long comments are back!!! Hahaha

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 17, 2017 at 12:08

      Missed you and your comments. Honestly, maybe I have to do a follow up post from the Mentee’s point of view about creating the relationship with the mentor – and I’d ask for the experts opinion on that. Because it’s not as easy as saying “oh I want you to mentor me”. It’s quite tricky honestly. And what if the mentor just says ‘ok’ but doesn’t really mean it? And makes no effort? I guess we’d also have to do a lot of prayers about picking the right person and it all going well.

      Reply
      • Eniola Lofindipe

        July 17, 2017 at 13:33

        You know Mrs Ibukun Awosika and Tara Fela Durotye covered this quite well in the TFD series in February. They also spoke about navigating one-one Mentorship with a member of the opposite sex so it stays as Mentorship and nothing more. Before the hand shake will pass the elbow and become wrestling.

        Reply
        • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

          July 21, 2017 at 14:07

          Haha. I remember reading a few people’s notes on this, as I couldn’t attend. It has to stay at handshake oh. Lol!

          Reply
      • Abby

        July 18, 2017 at 21:47

        Please Please do a follow up post! Thank you.

        Reply
        • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

          July 21, 2017 at 14:15

          Will give it my best shot!

          Reply
  5. Precious Nkeih

    July 17, 2017 at 16:29

    Waoh, Kachee! This is so well written. Having a mentor who believes in you is of utmost importance. Not one who doubts your potential. What said about chasing your mentor is so true. Sometimes we have to chase the people we need to glean from. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this.preciouscore.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 17, 2017 at 17:19

      Thank you for reading Sis! Xx

      Reply
  6. Dee Olateru

    July 18, 2017 at 05:54

    I agree that mentors are very important in the Corporate space but they’re also quite valuable in other fields such as entrepreneurship, creatives etc. When I first started out in my career I asked someone I worked with to be my mentor, she said yes but there really wasn’t a connection.I quickly learned that for me, a connection on some personal level and their VESTED interest was important. I’ve ended up having several mentors over the course of my career (8 years now yikes) where the relationship has evolved into that of a mentor/mentee without a formal ‘define the relationship’ talk. However, mentorship is one thing, but you absolutely need SPONSORSHIP in this corporate world o.My company had a few sessions on the difference between a mentor and a sponsor a few years ago and then my eyes opened. A mentor offers advice and guidance, while a sponsor creates opportunities for you, and pounds the table on your behalf and most importantly speaks the world of you when you’re not in the room. A sponsor needs to be in a position of power/influence in the path you’re pursuing.I have been fortunate to be blessed to have both mentors and sponsors and you need both. Either way you have to put in the work, there’s no beating about the bush on that. Your mentor doesn’t have to be within your organisation but your sponsor should be. My mentors have pushed me personally and professionally, they’ve read my essays and memos, they’ve quizzed me, they’ve prepped me for important conversations, they’ve cheered me on, and I’ve vented on some of their couches. They’ve made me ready. My sponsors have created opportunities for me, and have opened doors I didn’t even know existed (all of my international work opportunities have been sponsor-driven).It is so important to remember to acknowledge these people and let them know that you see them putting their reputation on the line to give you an opportunity. While you’re at it, do a good job and make them look good too. Win-win. It is also important to ‘lift as you climb’. I’m a firm believer that no one is too young to mentor others. Even while in University, you can mentor high school students. At your first year at work you can mentor college students etc etc. Professionally, when in a ‘Managerial’ capacity especially in ‘the abroad’ as a person of color or as a woman (or as both!!) we have got to bring up the next generation so that in a few years, it won’t be a thing that you are the only woman in your organization, or the only black person at a certain level.Okay, that was more than 2 cents sha!!

    Reply
    • Abby

      July 18, 2017 at 21:51

      Thank you so much Kachee for writing this post and creating the opportunity to learn from other people, cos I just learnt something significant from Dee’s comment. Xx

      Reply
    • Mary-Anne

      July 19, 2017 at 08:25

      WOW!!! You opened my eyes too.

      Reply
      • Dee Olateru

        July 19, 2017 at 17:36

        Yay! The more aware we all are the better for us!

        Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 21, 2017 at 14:06

      Comment of the day Dee. Nothing else to say!

      Reply
  7. Lara Teshola

    July 18, 2017 at 07:46

    interesting read as always… Recently I have had to turn quite a few people reaching out for mentorship down, because I am actually not the right person to mentor them. Just to add my two cents; It is very imoprtant for both Mentors and Mentees to know that the God Factor is very important in this journey as well. When it comes to One-on-One mentorship, usually a lot of invading of privacy comes to play so a mentor also needs to be very Sensitive.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 21, 2017 at 14:05

      You’re very spot on. With intense mentorship, there’s a lot of privacy that could be invaded! And yes, it’s okay to turn people down if you don’t feel like the right person.

      Reply
  8. Mary-Anne

    July 19, 2017 at 09:03

    I now pronounce you my WCW.This came at a perfect time. We all need mentors, and it is essential to also give back and mentor someone else too.I did not know about the Peer mentors, aha, I have a ton.Great read as always.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 21, 2017 at 14:03

      Aww, so sweet of you! Thank you for reading. Xx

      Reply
  9. Aisha

    July 19, 2017 at 10:31

    I like the comments here though my questions haven’t really been answered but they’re enlightening. How do you form these relationships when you don’t like to get all up in people’s business and you don’t want them in yours too. It seems like a tough thing to do for people who are shy/introverts and find it difficult opening up to people. It’s a really dicey thing due to the levels of closeness required.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 19, 2017 at 10:36

      I think I agree with you. And like I said in one of the comments below, I will definitely look into that for a blog post – approaching the right mentor properly and forming those relationships. I agree that it’s not a very easy thing to do. But hopefully I’ll bring some answers your way! Xx

      Reply

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