Last week I was facilitating a session on mentoring skills. As always we had a few entrepreneurs in class who we use as cases over the two days to learn mentoring and apply the skills learned. Apart from these entrepreneurs we attempt to invite entrepreneurs who have used some form of coaching / mentoring in the past and who feel it has helped them to grow. We had one such entrepreneur speak to us about his enterprise and his experience with mentors in the past. Incidentally over tea he (the entrepreneur) told me that most of his experiences have been of poor quality. But the rare few have made the difference.
While the entrepreneur who we invited shared number of thoughts on how his mentor had helped him and how the many who called themselves mentors wasted his time and efforts, the big learning for all of us in the room was – choose your mentee (also the mentor) carefully.
We had also invited a mentor to share his experiences and he almost spoke as if it was the act of a Good Samaritan. Most of his mentoring efforts did not yield him any returns except satisfaction that he had done his bit on being sought. Apart from his other tips which were very good, the big learning for all of us in the room was – choose your mentee carefully and, let them seek you out!
So the big two lessons from the mentor-mentee experience sharing during the workshop were:
- Choose your mentee (mentor in the case of the entrepreneur) carefully
- Let the mentee seek the mentor
While they seem obvious to those who believe in common sense, the cliché ‘common sense is rarely common’ holds especially true in this case. There are many reasons for this, which we will discuss on a separate conversation later. But for now, for all those who want to take up mentoring of entrepreneurs, please use the two big lessons above wisely.
After all you wish to mentor because you want to share – isn’t it?