Mentoring can be a fulfilling way for retirees to repurpose their professional skills, give back, and stay active. You may even have previous experience being a mentor to other employees or those you managed during your career.
An effective mentoring relationship is more than just making yourself available for a chat though. Check out four tips to help both mentor and mentee get the most out of their time together!
1. Set A Schedule
Treat mentorship like a professional responsibility. Decide how many hours per week you will spend together. Are meetings going to be virtual, in-person, or a combination of the two? Establishing these guidelines and putting meetings on your calendar will add a little structure to your retirement schedule and ensure that both you and your mentee respect each other’s time.
Consider setting an end date for this mentorship (a semester, a quarter, a month). If, at the end of this time, both participants wish to continue, set a new schedule. If the relationship has run its course, it will be much easier to part amicably and without awkwardness.
2. Set Expectations
If there is a generational age difference, the relationship and its boundaries may mean something different to the mentee. Are you willing to open up your professional network to your mentee? Can he or she contact you outside of your scheduled meetings by phone, text, or email? Can they use you as a reference on a resume or as a source in a research paper?
Both of you will benefit if you outline the specific purpose of the relationship. Does a grad student in your field need some help with her thesis? Are you going to train a young professional or coach up some of his skills? Are you going to help someone who wants to make a career change to gain new skills or brush up his or her resume?
Your time and experience are both extremely valuable. How will you hold your mentee accountable for any progress? What benchmarks can you set? What daily, weekly, or monthly goals should your mentee be hitting?
Be clear about what you expect your mentee to do and what you are willing to do in return.
3. Ask Personal And Professional Questions
Your mentee might feel nervous or intimidated at the beginning of the relationship. It may also feel as if they are approaching your initial meetings like they’re attending a class where you’ll be dispensing wisdom.
It’s up to the mentor to balance out the relationship and break the ice. Your first meeting should be more of a getting-to-know-you chat where you don’t really talk shop.
Ask about family, hobbies, the reasons they chose their field, favorite sports teams, books, or whatever else might lessen the pressure felt. Making a personal connection will help your mentee open up and participate actively once it is time to get down to business. True two-way communication gives you an opportunity to learn from the next generation, gain new perspectives, and perhaps discover some new interests you might want to pursue on your own time.
4. Stay Positive
When you were a young professional, you probably had positive and negative interactions with seasoned pros whom you looked up to. Try to emulate the conversations and experiences that inspired and motivated you. When criticism is necessary, maintain a constructive tone. After all, your mentee wouldn’t have approached you in the first place if he didn’t recognize that he needed guidance. Spend less time pointing out flaws than you do helping your mentee identify potential solutions and paths for growth.
Could Mentoring Add More Purpose And Meaning To Your Retirement?
Adding it to your vision of retirement can put your most valuable skills into action and add a rewarding new dimension to this chapter of your life.