Industry Insights with Experts

What Mentors Wish Their Mentees Knew

Shriya Sarang

1st Mar'23
What Mentors Wish Their Mentees Knew | OpenGrowth

The interaction between a mentor and mentee is similar to tango between two different ages. Coordination and orchestration between parties are essential for grace and success, just as dancing. And while we and others have written about the qualities of the ideal mentor, the other partner has received relatively less attention. 

Unfortunately, this gap exists since, like mentorship, menteeship also calls for particular actions, without which the mentee's success may be in jeopardy. In this article, we list five characteristics of the ideal mentee with tales and observations from the entrepreneurial sector.

Mentored Business Recorded Greater Growth by Entrepreneurs

What mentees can learn from mentors?

Having a mentor can indeed improve your financial situation. Due to their own entrepreneurial experience and unbiased viewpoint, they can identify potential cash drains and generate ideas for novel business models or initiatives that will help your company expand. According to SCORE (the Service Corp of Retired Executives), 43% of business owners who had five or more interactions with a mentor indicated growth in their organization, compared to 30% of those who had only one. Read more about why mentorship is beneficial for mentors

1. Specify what you require. 

Among young people today, "I need a mentor" is probably the most often-used phrase. This occurs frequently as reality sinks in. They suddenly realize how lost and hopeless they are without a mentor to lead them in the right direction. But, the majority of people seek a mentor only out of selfishness.

The first step in finding a mentor is figuring out what kind of assistance you require.

I'm not referring to a ten-page essay on "why I need a mentor" or a convoluted plot here.

You must already have a destination if you require a mode of transportation, right? The same is true with mentoring. There is an understanding between you, the passenger, and the cab driver before you board. Terms and conditions, roles and responsibilities, and rights and obligations are also present. It's a project with a very specific scope.

Hence, consider your requirement for a mentor before boarding the next mentoring train. You are more likely to benefit from the relationship to its fullest extent in this way.

2. Select carefully. 

Finding the proper individual is the next step after knowing what you need. Your choice of mentor determines 95% of your success and happiness, just like choosing a spouse. Start by selecting extremely successful people you respect, like, and trust. Both your mentor's professional and personal qualities, such as patience, compassion, and a healthy work-life balance, are significant. Pick a mentor you can relate with, who knows your priorities and shares your aspirations. But keep in mind that even someone at the top of their profession may not be optimal. We advise mentees to look for mentors they can picture themselves becoming and assess their readiness level for the task.

3. Overpromise while underdelivering. 

Keep in mind that mentors prefer finishers—people who finish what they start. So be careful to be familiar with the Golden Rules. The best mentees have these characteristics: They exhibit zeal, vigor, organization, and focus. They welcome criticism while staying truthful and receptive. They always act honorably and understand that perseverance and effort will pay off in the long run. As a result, the best mentees develop the ability to underpromise (I'll have a first draft to you in a week) and overdeliver (I know it's only been three days, but I have a first draft ready to share with you) in their communication. Additionally, they always ensure the quality of their job. 

4. Respect the time of your mentor. 

Excellent mentors are successful for a reason: They effectively manage their time by frequently juggling many tasks at once to ensure success. You must learn to value your mentor's time as a mentee. Give your mentor, for instance, enough time to assess your work (for example, one week for abstracts and at least two to three weeks for grants). Establish meeting objectives by planning the topics and tasks you wish to cover. Importantly, stay away from emails that are overly wordy or have a few questions that can be answered. Instead, ask questions that can be addressed with a simple yes or no response and save more in-depth issues for face-to-face discussions.

5. Watch out for traps. 

Mentees must learn to manage or assist their mentor in guiding them, much as in the world of management. Mentees must be prepared for mentors who fail. The phrase "mentorship malpractice" refers to a group of mentor actions that, whether deliberate or not, can adversely impact your success. Understand the warning indicators and the appropriate countermeasures to use. For instance, if your mentor becomes a bottleneck, establish strict timelines and spell out exactly what will happen when they do. Conversely, more extreme steps can be required if your mentor starts to steal your ideas.


You must assist your mentor in directing you as a mentee. Even the most excellent mentors occasionally succumb to the shadowy sides of humanity. Mentees need to be prepared for situations like this. Mentoring malpractice actually exists. It explains a series of behaviors a mentor may display, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that could endanger the success of their mentees.

It is your responsibility as a mentee to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond. You might wish to create deadlines and communicate to your mentor that you are in a time crunch if, for instance, their actions cause delays or obstruct your progress on a project.

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Writing has been my natural get-away and peace-place. Eventually, I have been drawn to the depths of the world of writing with numerous topics which have fascinated me through time like -
- Business and Finance
- Professional Communication and Skill Development

Through writing, I hope to find the bigger and better purpose of our lives beyond the work-life bitter banter and truly feel worth living in every breath.