How does mentorship work?

In a recent podcast episode, Shannon Allen was asked to describe the mechanics of how a mentor relationship works. Below is the transcript of her insightful answer, and the link to the entire podcast episode:


Shannon Allen:

I would say that all of that is very dependent on the people, their schedules and also the depth or the intensity of the mentorship relationship. So mentorship is not a one size fits all type of thing. You really have to base it on your specific situation.


So I’ll use myself as an example when someone approaches me about being their mentor. The very first thing I do is I have them tell me what that means to them because I learned a long time ago that, especially with younger people,  they will ask for a mentor. Really what they’re looking for is just a friend to bounce ideas off of and so it’s extremely important to define that relationship set reasonable expectations and then build the logistics of it around that. Otherwise you’ll really become frustrated because you’re putting way more effort into the relationship than what the mentee actually wanted from you.


And so for those who tell me ‘well I’m looking for deep mentorship and I really want to be mentored’ I always ask them this question. If you remember to ask people this question at the very beginning it will save you so much grief and headache moving forward. That question is ‘do I have permission to mentor you at a high level so that means can I be very open and frank with you about your blind spots. Can I trust you to show up on time to our meetings and ready to engage and ready to learn? Can I count on you not to get offended or upset if I say something that maybe you didn’t really want to hear? So I always want people who I’m mentoring to know what they’re getting into with me because I am a straight shooter I am very forthcoming . If people aren’t looking for that, it’s important for them to know what they’re getting. Those conversations then begin to build a framework for how often we meet and the tone of those meetings.


I tend personally to invest more time into people who I think are really going to benefit. People who really want to learn and if I know that there are very specific areas that someone’s looking to be mentored in, I’ll structure the meetings around that. It will be more formal and it’ll have more of an agenda. But if I know they’re looking for more general mentorship and guidance then I’ll definitely keep those meetings more casual and informal.


Learn more about Shannon here. Listen to the full 31 minute interview below or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Amazon:



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