6 Steps to Thriving at Work: Step 5


Make the Most of Your Relationship

What to avoid: finding a mentor and besieging him or her with phone calls, e-mails, and frantic pleas for help every time you hit crisis mode.

You’ve selected a mentor because she’s good at her job. That means she has limited time. While it’s fine to develop the relationship, you also want to be extremely mindful of her boundaries and other obligations.

If you suspect you may be asking too much of your mentor-in terms of guidance, time, whatever-back off. And make sure to encourage her to tell you whenever she doesn’t have time to help. By respecting her boundaries, you’ll gain her respect in return.

By definition, the mentor-mentee relationship is somewhat lopsided. She’s giving to you, and there’s probably not a lot you can give back. Or so it seems. But don’t underestimate the power of a “thank you”–either written or verbal.

It’s definitely appropriate to provide a token of your appreciation (flowers or a small gift) if she helps you with a particularly sticky work situation or puts in a good word for you that leads to a promising job opportunity. One caveat: if your mentor works at the same company as you, be careful about material thank you’s that could appear inappropriate. A better option is to buy her lunch or write her a nice note.