As a mentor, it’s likely that there is a heavy demand for your time. You probably have projects to run, people to meet, clients or bosses to appease, subordinates to keep busy, and plenty of meetings. All of this requires one common denominator: time management.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just think yourself to your next encounter? You probably covet the idea of instantly transporting yourself to just about any location within range of your cell phone signal. It’s the stuff of fantasies and big-budget Sci-Fi movies.
Just think of it—how fabulous to be parsed into a sub-molecular fuzz to instantly land at your desired location, bypassing snarled traffic and avoiding airport hassles. You’d arrive seconds later at your high rise hotel in Dubai or a sun-kissed conference center in the Bahamas. You must admit, it would shave precious time off your commute or your next business trip du jour.
The fact is, billionaires & government scientists around the world are working this problem today. For obvious reasons, they want to move manpower and materiel as swiftly as humanly possible—or even faster. Recent experiments in teleportation have been wildly successful, transporting a single particle of matter into outer space. Other initiatives are under construction to move people from city to city in a fraction of the time it takes today. Can an instantaneous trip to the office be far behind?
Unless you’re a starship captain in a major blockbuster movie, you’re stuck with the realities of time, space, and sequence. This means your mentorship program needs to be structured in a way that is smart, effective, and reality-based.
Communicating with Your Protégé in the Real World
Now that you’re a mentor, you probably feel some sense of excitement about the next generation you’re training up, as well as some concerns about how you come across. It’s important to get it right—to convey your meaning in the simplest, most direct form while keeping up that all-important bond.
This means consistent contact. It also means developing a structure for your program and sticking to it.
Communicating with your protégé can be extensive or limited, and it depends on a number of factors. These can include any or all of the following:
Physical Location: If you can have your protégé come in to your office for meetings, that’s great. Alternatively, you can choose a more relaxed meeting place like a restaurant or coffeehouse. If yours is a virtual mentorship, you can communicate by phone, text, Skype, and e-mail. Proximity is the major factor here.
Scheduling: You and your protégé need to work around your schedules when it comes to setting the best time and frequency for meeting. Either party may be on-call because you work in real estate, medical, or the legal profession. If that’s the case, establish acceptable reasons to break off your meeting and how you will reschedule it, should you lose time.
Home Life: A young single person is likely to have more free time than someone who is married or a parent. Single parents, in particular, have a tough time being flexible. Establish meeting times that are convenient to both of you, taking your home life into consideration. Sometimes it’s tricky, but it can be done.
Outside Obligations: Executives often have responsibilities that extend outside of the typical professional setting. You may have board meetings, conferences or company events that take up extra time. Consider these external obligations as you schedule time with your protégé. Realize that your protégé may have other obligations too. Respect their commitments as you would want them to respect yours.
Making Time for Mentoring
Flexibility is the key when you decide the structure of your mentorship program. Before getting started, you and your protégé need to discuss each area that affects your mutual schedule.
How many factors will impact your routine? What’s your fall back in case your regular schedule is disrupted? Determine the best choices for both of you, and be consistent. This helps avoid misunderstandings, and you can swiftly navigate around any unforeseen pitfalls.
Both you and your protégé should keep a copy of the schedule. If you need to cancel or reschedule a meeting, be clear about how much notice to give each other. With the exception of life-and-death emergencies, last-minute cancellations are not okay. Once again, show the same respect to your protégé as you would expect to receive from them.
Besides creating your schedule, decide on some basic ground rules for your mentorship. Either one of you should be able to end the relationship if things don’t work out. By the same token, there should be an incentive for sticking it out if problems come up. Decide and agree on the structure ahead of time, including:
- Length of time for mentorship
- Hours devoted to the program
- Procedures for allotting more time
- Methods of communication
- Rules about confidentiality
- Dissolving the relationship
There are many ways to find time for mentoring and many compelling reasons to make an effort. Mentoring is a rewarding experience. It’s to your benefit to juggle your schedule and make time to nurture a protégé—guiding the next generation toward an exciting future!
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing and the host of the Book Publishing Success podcast show. Bryan works with best-selling business authors, including NYT best-selling authors Chris Widener and Tom Hopkins, plus up-and-coming authors including Johnny Covey. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into buyers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.