Questions To Ask Your Mentor
You’ve found your mentor; your personal guide around the potholes blocking your path to professional fulfillment. Now only one question remains. What should you ask your coach? How can you best approach the mentor-protege relationship in a way that gets you the answers you need to advance, solidifies your professional interest in a mentor’s mind, and demonstrates due gratitude and respect?
The answer is less complex than you might think. Simply staying mindful of several key factors when determining what questions to ask your mentor will allow you to make the most of your learning experience.
Ask About Their Credentials
It is easy for anyone to claim they are a mentor, but actually being a skilled mentor requires a certain synchronicity between knowledge, spare time and a genuine desire to cultivate another’s potential, all of which I’ve touched on in a previous post. All of that can be proven with a simple inquiry into your coach’s credentials and professional references, which are never a problem for truly qualified individuals to provide. Being a wary student also proves your carefulness and tenacity to a competent mentor.
Ask What Would’ve Helped Them
Questions such as this will spare you the headache of finding yourself missing some obscure bit of information or procedure essential to optimal job performance. Additionally, asking your mentor what they wished they could’ve learned from their own coach demonstrates genuine interest in their opinion and confidence in their status as an accomplished, knowledgeable figure in their field.
Let Them Criticize Your Performance
The prospect of hearing your flaws is never easy to swallow, especially when that criticism comes from someone you admire, such as a mentor. However, never opening yourself to criticism means never learning where you could improve, and improvement is the mentorship experience’s core motivation. Becoming aware of blind spots or weaknesses might sting a bit at first, but those wounds heal quickly. Later, you’ll thank yourself for being open and honest and your mentor will thank their self for choosing a student brave enough to confront their shortcomings, and willful enough to correct them.
As a protege, asking the best questions boils down to simply being considerate of a mentor’s perspective, goals and motivations (as well as your own). Do that, and you will soar from under your mentor’s wing equipped with the knowledge you need to succeed.