Protégé Perks and Pitfalls: Cultivating a Good Mentor Relationship

Gary Kapanowski works in several fields where employees benefit from strong mentorships. Gary Kapanowski has twenty-six years of combined experience in accounting, aviation and defense, business planning, adult literacy, and more. Gary Kapanowski has had several competent mentors in the past, including Peter Drucker and Dr. Robert Kaplan. Gary Kapanowski shares his advice on building a strong mentor-mentee relationship.

Gary Kapanowski

Gary Kapanowski

Manage Time Wisely

 Gary Kapanowski notes potential mentors often don’t realize the time commitment involved in mentoring. Mentors also tend to think once their protégé understands the process they were meant to learn, the mentorship is over. A mentee’s technical understanding is no guarantee of producing his or her best work. Trainees must be mentored in technical skills and people skills, all of which take great amounts of time. A mentor must readily make and stick to that commitment, says Gary Kapanowski.

Build Rapport

Some mentees complain their mentors were not invested in them or were not engaged. In other words, the mentor did not build rapport. Gary Kapanowski believes a mentor should get to know the mentee as a person. Ask about family, hobbies, or goals. Offer to take the mentee to lunch or out for coffee to discuss work as well as lighter topics.

Seek Feedback

Mentors will often be asked how their protégés are progressing. They should periodically ask their mentees the same thing about their own work. For example, does the mentee feel valued? Does he or she feel that learning is taking place? Would the mentee like to change goals? Knowledge like this, Gary Kapanowski says, makes a good mentor a great one.

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