Even though women only hold 35.9% of management positions in Canada, this percentage is increasing. And, according to the August 2020 report from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada: 2020, women account for 37% of self-employed Canadians. One important tool that women with drive and ambition use for professional and entrepreneurship development is mentorship.
However, participants must approach mentorship with the right mindset if they want to reap significant benefits. Here are a few guidelines to help you get the most out of your mentorship relationship.
Before you seek out a mentor, take the initiative and define your professional needs and wants. Look at your strengths, your experience and skill set gaps. Your best mentors should fill these gaps and supplement your strengths.
For instance, if you’re strong in sales you may want to connect with a mentor that knows finance and operations. If you’re an entrepreneur you may want to connect with a highly experienced business owner that can help you avoid common pitfalls. Have a clear view of what you hope to get from your relationship before you move forward.
Mentorship is about new perspectives and learning. Even though you may be accustomed to doing things in a particular way, you may encounter new paths that challenge your status quo.
Remain malleable, willing, and receptive. Commit to expanding your capabilities and exploring new options. There is often more than one path to the same destination.
Don’t expect your mentor to take the lead. You must guide the process and ask thought provoking questions. Be honest and straightforward and don’t hold back your thoughts or feelings.
Step out of your comfort zone and face your demons. You might hate the prospect of budgeting, public speaking, sales, or hiring. Tell your mentor, absorb all you can learn about a subject, and listen to your mentor’s advice. They are there to help you surpass barriers and may have overcome the same fears.
Ask your mentor for feedback and don’t take it personally. They will provide you with constructive information that can help you change and grow.
Be gracious. Accepting criticism and improving is more beneficial than resenting a person that genuinely wants you to succeed.
Your mentor will provide you with their perspective. Even if you don’t take their advice, you should consider it and delve into their reasoning.
You can’t expect to benefit from your mentorship relationship unless you play an active role. You must invest time and energy to cultivate the relationship. This includes setting goals, boundaries, and ways for both parties to measure accountability.
You will also want to set your meeting schedule and response times as well as the parameters for what’s confidential and what isn’t.
Ultimately, mentorship should be a mutually beneficial, trusting relationship. Mentees tap into valuable knowledge and experience, but the mentor also gains valuable leadership skills, personal satisfaction, and builds a brighter future.
If you’re interested in mentorship, Kelowna Women in Business offers a mentorship program. Mentee commitment is 12 – 14 hours over a 12-week period. Please email for further information. It’s the first step towards accomplishing your professional goals.