Rules of Engagement For Mentees

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Mentoring is a proven tool used to nurture and help people grow. Having a dedicated mentor could be the catalyst for reaching a career milestone, volunteering for a challenging project, creating better work-life integration, and generally feeling more confident in your choices. Mentoring can also help you navigate organizational culture, solve problems, and advance your career.

In the case of becoming a mentee, you must be 100% present and committed to your time spent with your mentor. Before you begin a mentee relationship, ask yourself these questions:

1.     Can I commit the time to be a mentee right now? Absolutely, you want the opportunity to work with a mentor. You want to become the most successful professional possible by learning from one of the best in the business.  But the key words here are “right now”. Take a moment to evaluate your current personal and professional commitments. Do you have the bandwidth to fully commit the time and additional work needed to work with a mentor right now? The time commitment of researching your mentor and being prepared for each meeting has to be a priority.

2.     Am I willing to be fully present during my meetings with my mentors? For your mentee relationship to work, you need to be 100% present during your meetings. This means no emailing, no answering phone calls, no thinking about your next meeting. Instead, you’ll need to listen, participate, and engage. Can you do it? 

3.     Am I willing to set up measurable goals with my mentor that are actionable?  Ask yourself what you want to achieve from this relationship – career guidance, work/life balance, professional or skill growth?  Be prepared before you meet with your mentor to outline your objectives.   

4.     Am I willing to learn more?  We’ve heard from numerous CMOs and executives that their most impactful mentoring relationships have been those that went beyond professional topics. To truly make a difference, you should be willing to share details of your own personal life and take an interest in your mentor’s life outside the office.


Know their superpowers

“It kind of depends on who the person is and what their superpower is. For someone like Bill [Gates], it would have to be around his incredible capacity to learn and his incredible curiosity because during my time with him, I was just stunned at his reading capacity and his breadth of interests. And so my question for him would clearly be around: How does he decide how to spend his time? How does he decide what projects he’s going to actually involve himself in? What’s that thought process like and how does he keep that curiosity stoked so much? For somebody like Satya [Nadella], who’s our current CEO, one of his magic powers is just this incredible empathy that he has. He has this ability to put himself in other people’s shoes. He’s never done marketing in his career and, my goodness, he really somehow understands what it’s like to be a marketer in high tech and he has great empathy for the difficulties of that. So, my question for him would be around that superpower. How did he nurture that?  Was he born with that? Did he work on it and what tips would he have for other people who want to build that superpower? But it would be very particular to the person themselves and I think that served me well over the years and working with different mentors.” – Listen to Chris Capossela, CMO of Microsoft 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to somebody you admire

“I was based in South Korea in Seoul and I was working for Samsung Electronics in their global marketing operations department and I was working for an exceptional woman, the first woman VP ever for Samsung Electronics. I was very lucky she was my manager and what she taught me, I would forever be thankful, was the invisible things were important because it would help me actually influence people that were not in my line of management. It will help me also understand what was happening. From a feelings perspective, the dynamics within a group by just observing actually what was happening with their bodies and their attitudes. She helped me understand the invisible dynamics and interpret them, which was extremely powerful down the line, throughout my career and in my personal life. Role models and mentorship overall is incredibly important in any organization or outside in life. I think it has helped me a lot throughout my career to see things that I didn’t see before and help me understand. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to somebody you admire and starting a relationship with that person.”  – Listen to Barbara Martin Coppola, CDO of IKEA

Topics to consider discussing…

  • Career development & growth
  • Relationship management
  • Prioritizing challenges
  • Building, managing, and inspiring teams
  • Salary negotiation
  • Work/life integration
  • Developing skills
  • Taking professional risks Nadine Dietz is chief community officer at Adweek and host of the CMO Moves podcast.