Something that I've started to do recently is audit certain aspects of my life. I started with my career, then moved on to my finances, and then started to look at my relationships and friendships with other people. Luckily when I audited my relationship with my own Mentor, I realised that we had a good thing going, but it made me wonder what the warning signs would be if things weren't going so well. I did a bit of research and read about some Mentoring horror stories online, and came up with 6 red flags for everyone to look out for.
Whilst cancelled meetings can't always be helped, what I'm talking about here is repeated cancellations with no explanation, notice, or consideration. If a Mentor or Mentee is cancelling without care, you have to wonder if it's because of you or if it's because they simply aren't as invested in your relationship and journey as a Mentee as much as you thought. That might be a hard truth to realise, but it's better you find out early before you invest too much of your time or effort. Remember not to assume the worst first though, because there might be a good reason for the cancellations that has nothing to do with you. Communication is key in these situations.
If you find that you are repeating yourself a lot or that your Mentee/Mentor is asking you the same questions in each meeting, it might be that they haven't been paying attention to you. We are all human of course so a handful of these instances are to be expected. However, if this is a common occurrence then you might want to look at why. Later this month we will discuss how important and beneficial active listening is for both Mentors and Mentees, so it might be worth checking that out if this is one of your red flags.
Having clear aims and goals when starting a Mentoring relationship is not only crucial to productivity and success, but it's also important when setting expectations for both Mentees and Mentors. Without setting these, there is a danger that one party simply won't deliver what the other party wants. This breeds disappointment and sometimes even resentment, which are absolutely not two feelings you want present when Mentoring.
1 way street
Are you making all the effort with regards to organising meetings, leading discussions, and making general contact? Sometimes this is a reality of peoples relationships, especially for the Mentee, and it's also encouraged to a certain degree because a Mentee should drive their relationship, so naturally they will be taking on more responsibility. I would advise you to keep a check on this though because if your Mentor (or Mentee) thinks they can coast the relationship and just simply turn up to meetings without making any additional effort, then something needs to be said.
There is a danger, especially when a Mentee and Mentor both work for the same company, of meetings derailing and becoming an opportunity for gossip, a rant, or agenda pushing. The odd comment here and there about a shared grievance is fine, especially when building your relationship at the beginning, but try to Remember why you are there and stay on track whenever possible.
This one isn't easy to talk about but it's an easy one to recognise. Even if none of the above apply to you, if you don't have an obvious connection with your Mentor or Mentee, then you have to wonder what the result of this will be. It might be that you can carry on with your relationship and meet your goals together, but one of the benefits of Mentoring that is can be a very enjoyable experience, and one that you will want to recreate with others. If you have that connection and chemistry in your relationship, you can build something really special between you.
Now I'm not necessarily suggesting that if any of these issues are present in your Mentoring relationship, that you end it immediately, I would just advise you to be aware of them and attempt to fix them or move on from them if possible. Good communication can resolve the majority of the above so make sure that once you've identified a red flag, you talk it through with each other before making any rash decisions. Remember though, If an issue is left unchecked, then your relationship could meet a sticky end.
Please let me know what you thought of this blog and if you have experienced any of these red flags or perhaps another that I have not discussed. I look forward to reading your comments below! Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to stay in touch with Enhance Mentoring.