It is important to have an element of choice in mentor-mentee selection. This isn’t a buddy system and it certainly isn’t school. People tend to know who they work with best. There is nothing worse than not having the mutual energy needed to make what is essentially a benevolent act work.
Space is good
Distance works. If a mentee is too close to a mentor in the work hierarchy, there is a chance that they won’t always be getting the best advice. Nobody wants an overly ambitious bright young thing snapping at your heels. Contrastingly, if they are a few rungs of the ladder below you, you will see this as less of an issue.
Lay the groundwork
It is a good idea to know broadly, what you will be talking about. That doesn’t necessarily mean a full agenda, but it does mean sketching the broad strokes via email. “Hey George, I’m working on a big presentation, do you mind if I run a few idea past you this Thursday?” It gives structure and makes sure you are both using the time well.
Teach the skills
Mentorship isn’t management. It shouldn’t be confused as such. There are some overlapping skills but some skills are totally different. And let’s not pretend that your managers are managing perfectly. There’s no such thing as perfection. Consider inviting in a coaching consultancy or working with a specialist in your HR team. Hamden can provide such coaching.
Err on the side of structure
Hard structures work well. A mid-afternoon Monday coffee or a Thursday 7-8 breakfast meeting means you can spend you efforts considering what you are going to discuss, rather than where you are going to work.