Will she agree to be my mentor?

I’m leaving my current organisation to take up a new job, and before I go I want to ask a director I’ve always admired if she will mentor me. I’m hesitant to do so, because I know she’s really busy, although we get on very well. How can I present this as an attractive idea rather than a burden?

Most people approached to become a mentor see it as an enormous compliment: after all, it’s a big vote of confidence for their achievements and management style. But you’re right to be hesitant, because the general perception of a mentor relationship is that it can last for many years and be a drain on time and energy.

The trick to this is not to see mentorship as a permanent arrangement. Instead, have a really good think about what you want this person to help you achieve – is it to be a sounding board while you settle into a new job? Is it to open doors in the industry? Is it guidance and advice as you take on new responsibilities or change career direction?

Then you can present the request as mentorship for a specific purpose, and time-box it for a limited time. Make an agreement – for instance, to meet four times over six weeks to coach you for your new role. That way, neither of you will feel awkward about finishing the relationship when the contract ends (although it can be continued if you both would like). It’s also polite to offer to pay for coffee or lunch, by way of thanks.

For more information, have a look at our pages on picking a mentor .

November 6th, 2009 | Category: coach, experience, mentor, objective | No Comments »

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