Got 3 Minutes? You Can Be a Mentor
Mentoring doesn’t have to take a ton of time to be effective
The response I’ve been getting to my articles about mentoring designers — linked at the bottom, in case you missed them — has been unexpected.
I’m humbled by all the responses I’ve been getting, from “this is really great,” to “I wish ALL hiring managers thought this way,” to “YAAAAS, QUEEEEEN!” (that’s been my fave so far), so thank you and keep spreading the word.
The most frequent response I’ve been getting, not surprisingly, is the one I actually cited in the first article. Remember? The one about not being able to justify taking time out of one’s “ridiculously busy” schedule?
I can see I’m gonna have to get all “Jewish grandmother” again.
One second… (clears throat):
How long did that last game of Angry Birds take?
How long did you spend last night scrolling through Netflix but not actually watching anything?
How long did it take you to rage-type that 17-tweet-long response-rant?
But you can’t spare a few minutes in your work-week to maybe make a positive impact on someone else’s life?
And would it kill you to call once in a while? A text, maybe?
Look, I get it. I do. You’re busy, I’m busy, everyone’s busy. We live in an ever-expanding, ever-accelerating, incessantly distractible society. Some days, I just want to lay on the couch and watch reruns of M*A*S*H (thanks, Hulu!).
But is that what I want to be known for? That I got through all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H? (Because it doesn’t get really good until they get rid of Frank Burns and bring in Winchester.) Or that I tried to make even the tiniest positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible with the time I have?
Like my man Henry Rollins says:
No such thing as spare time,
no such thing as free time,
no such thing as down time.
All you got is life time.
Once you’re done rolling your eyes, let me be clear: This is not a call to martyrdom. There’s a difference between feeling busy and feeling legitimately overwhelmed — and if that’s what you’re dealing with right now, don’t take this on, too. It’s okay to say “no,” or even just pause, and know that any expectations you perceive from others are merely stories you’re telling yourself in your head.
- With a plan and the right level of discipline, mentoring does not have to take a lot of time on your part to generate value and impact for the mentee.
- If you have it to give, then give it — time, knowledge, connections, encouragement, positive energy, etc.
- You, the mentor, are in control of how much time and effort you contribute.
We all love a good listicle, so here are some Mentoring Mini-Mitzvahs that shouldn’t take you more than three minutes to do:
Help them find that needle
We’ve all got collections of articles, books, podcasts, or sites saved somewhere. Chances are, you’ve got something in there that could help save someone who’s wrestling with a particular problem a ton of time — heck, you know you’re gonna share it in a post online anyway, so you might as well tag specific folks who could find it useful.
Proofread their first-impression
Review their resume or LinkedIn profile for obvious things that could get them passed over by a recruiter or hiring manager. And, if it took you more than three minutes to read through and pick out something to give feedback on, then maybe what they’ve written is too long or dense.
Give them a shout-out
If you(’ve) work(ed) with someone and think they’re awesome, say so! Send them an email or a text. Better yet, drop a recommendation on their profile! And what you write about them in the first three minutes is typically what you believe is most authentically awesome about them, so don’t overthink it.
Play a round of Mentee Match Game
Tag a job seeker on an “I’m hiring!” post (seriously, this one takes, like, three seconds, people). Better yet, if you know both the job poster and the job seeker, connect them via LinkedIn Messenger and share with them why you think this person would rock the job.
I’m going to pump [clap] you up
If you know someone who’s heading toward a career milestone — big interview, new job, first public speaking gig, critical client/exec review — take a few minutes to call, email, or text them with a few words of encouragement.
Haaaaave you met Ted?
Even if your colleague’s name isn’t Ted (bonus if it is), you can still help someone expand their professional network by introducing them to people you know — especially people with complementary expertise.
Flip the script!
Ask someone you’re mentoring, who reports to you, or who’s new to your organization or industry for their take on a question or problem you’re wrestling with. Because you never know how someone’s going to add value to your career journey until you give them a shot.
Say thank you
When someone does add value to your career journey, remember to let them know. Gratitude is in short supply these days but is one of the most potent ways humans can build rapport. And you’ll score a double-mitzvah credit if you spend the extra time to hand-write your thank you.
Oh, and call your parents
Remember who your very first mentors were.
They’re not going to be around forever.
If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, and you plan on doing any of these, please consider going public with it. Tag it with #M3. And if there’s something you’ve tried that isn’t on this list, let me know in the comments