By Kate Anderson, Guest Contributor
As mentioned in the previous post, “Rethinking Mentoring: Master-Apprentice to Dynamic Duo,” we need to rethink mentoring. We need to begin thinking of it as a dynamic duo rather than an outdated master-apprentice type of relationship.
Even though work today is looking less like the work of the past this old mentoring/apprentice archetype from the days of yore still permeates our minds. This ideal is widely prevalent in our collective minds because it seems to fulfill our notions of the natural order of learning and work. However, this ideal is terribly shortsighted in the modern era: It situates the mentor as an old fossil and the mentee as a vapid sponge; two objects that bear little resemblance to real modern day humans.
With the fast pace of life, family, technology, learning, and work production predicated on informational exchanges, managing logistics, and troubleshooting problems we all need to learn new things constantly and juggle tasks effectively. Each of us is blessed with divergent skill sets, backgrounds, experiences, and competencies that make us individually unique. We therefore have a great deal to offer one another!
The Dynamic Duo functions as a circular “Ying and Yang” process of give and take. It is an exchange defined by mentee and mentor together, not prescribed by history or that old fossilized mentoring ideal. The relationship can created to assist the mentee, but the mentor also should be open to learning and growing equally because of the relationship with a unique mentee. The path towards goals and “success” doesn’t have to be a linear progression; it just needs to meet the demands of each member of the Duo.
Here are some quick tips and tricks for how to make this work:
- The mentoring relationship should be defined between the parties at hand. What are each other’s expectations of a mentoring relationship, and do these expectations mesh with one another?
- This relationship and should take into account the skills and deficiencies of both the mentor and mentee and consider the potential for improvement of both individuals.
- Mentoring does not need to be hierarchical (top-down) in nature—and if an organizational hierarchy exists, the relationship should seek to traverse the boundaries and limits of this order.
- The mentoring relationship can be mutually beneficial to both parties involved. Learning does not necessarily flow directionally down, but rather can also flow between and upward.
- While there are some good formulas and directions on how to create a mentoring relationship out there, be sure to make your mentoring relationship your own, and don’t be afraid to divert from the structure.
- Mentoring doesn’t have to lead to “getting ahead” in the work world (though it certainly can)—it can help enrich your life in many different and unexpected ways.