5 thoughts for navigating a mentoring relationship

Blog Post created by yekemi Champion on Mar 16, 2015

I regret that early in my career, I didn't realize the importance of having a good mentor. But I guess I didn't know what I didn't know. If you are like me, it's not too late. Particularly in the current energy market, it's important to stay confident and focused on what you want for yourself. A good mentor can help you do that more effectively. A support network could make the difference between making good career decisions and making bad ones. I have a number of mentors now - a couple of mentors within the oil and gas industry and a few highly valuable mentors outside the industry.  Here are my thoughts based on my mentee journey so far :


1. Reasons for mentoring relationships

      • For understanding and navigating a new culture when you join a new company or business unit
      • To get support in a new role or function where you would like an expert coach
      • To solicit advice for career & personal development in a difficult, changing or slow market
      • To get support in developing emotional intelligence or conflict resolution skills within your team
      • To have someone you admire and perhaps want to be like when you grow up


2. Ways to get a mentor

      • Join internal mentoring schemes within your organization
      • Approach HR or your manager on advice on how to get a mentor
      • Use your network (social, professional, personal) to identify potential role models
      • Join external organizations e.g. Cherie Blair foundation


3. Your ideal role model

      • Determine the profile of dream mentor who is likely to also be a role model for you (ideally!) e.g. level in the organization, function, experience, career history and so on


4. Tips for establishing a relationship when you don't know your mentor

      • Do let them know someone has recommended them to you (state who)
      • If you use e-mail as first contact, don't write a long-winded e-mail...keep it short with brief background and career info
      • Do include a "get out clause"'s a nice thing to do e.g. "if you are unable to do this at time, please could recommend someone you think would be a good mentor?"
      • Organize a video conference/Skype if your potential mentor is remote
      • Aim to connect on a deeper level e.g. similar hobbies, interests, kids, career history, approach to life etc.
      • Set a meeting rhythm that works for both of you e.g. monthly or quarterly
      • Above all, aim to be your mentor's friend to make the relationship last


5. When life changes, relationships change too

      • Life events mean all relationships are subject to change
      • Be genuinely interested in your mentor
      • Adjust style and/or frequency of meeting as required
      • It's OK if needs/wants change - be open and flexible
      • Have an honest conversation (especially if things are not working as you had hoped)



Photo from

Note: This is a summary of a presentation I delivered at an internal event within my organization and also published by me on LinkedIn on 06 August 2014 - both in modified versions.