How often do I have to call my mentee?

„How often do I have to call my mentee?“, the colleague asks. My face turns slowly towards the voice I heard from across the room. My mind is wondering, whether this question actually has been asked!? I take a closer look. The colleague who asked the question isn’t even in the role of a mentor yet – and the question already includes a „have to“? I am puzzled.

How often do I have to call my mentee?

Generally spoken, there is no stupid question. And yet, questions reveal so much of a person’s heart and believes. Putting ‚have to‘ in the context of mentorship just displays how little someone is ready for a mentor-role. Asking for a quantitative measurement („How often…“) in the context of a mentoring relationship is even more shocking.

Back then I would have loved to answer:

You don’t. You most certainly don’t „have to“.

Call your mentee because you are interested in his/her well-being. Call him/her when you have news to share. Call him/her because you like talking to this individual.

But please, don’t call someone because you „have to“.

And please, don’t use a quantitative scale to measure a relationship. Don’t tick your „mentee-call“ off the to do list.

But independent from the grotesqueness of the content, the question implies a lack of vision for mentorship, too. The question at hand:

Why would you become a mentor?

In many companies it is an easy answer, when holding the role of a mentor is influencing your promotion process positively. But aside from your personal career, what are your reasons to be a mentor?  

Personally, I love to see people unfold their potential. My mentees are a very essential group of people who I can walk with and support in their career. Often, I bring in coaching techniques, my personal experience or just some time to listen to the topics of my mentees. I dedicate time to speak to my mentees in order to build a relationship – and then it’s easy to talk. This relationship is the basis for them taking advice, engaging in coaching moments and trusting me even with sensitive topics.

If you are already a mentor, take some time to reflect on your reasons. If you feel like calling mentees is a burden that needs to be done occasionally, think of options to change that. Maybe you need to quit your mentor role for some people. Maybe you need to change your mindset. Maybe you need to define your ‘why’ new. But please don’t call anyone because it’s on your to-do-list and you ‘have to’ call ‘4 times a year’.

If you are not a mentor yet, think of what you would like your mentor to do and start developing yourself into that person. If you liked your mentor to listen well, train listening to other people and engage in conversations with questions.

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