“But these new kids don’t want to take our advice!” Yes, I know. I hear it all the time, and I experience it personally too. It’s frustrating to try and mentor someone who doesn’t think they need any advice or support, or asks for your advice and then doesn’t take it. Don’t give up, and don’t confuse “mentoring” with “friendship.” You want to be a role model to your mentee, not necessarily her BFF. Part of being a good mentor is working on making yourself better too, and that includes practicing patience, tolerance, and good communication shills. Remember, if you’re trying to mentor someone who clearly needs help but isn’t open to receiving it, chances are no one else is going to help her either. You may be all she’s got.
Having said that, being a mentor doesn’t mean that you have to be totally selfless, or blind. If your mentee is engaged in flagrant policy violations or misconduct, don’t allow yourself to be dragged into the mud with her. That’s why I recommend holding off on becoming too friendly too soon. If you do have to disengage, it’s easier on both of you if you’ve kept the relationship a professional one.
Mentoring is a balancing act, it takes a certain amount of bravery to reach out, and it should ultimately benefit both parties. I know so many talented women who refuse to take a risk and reach out to some of their co-workers because they see it as a waste of time. Don’t be one of those women (or men, for that matter) who stays in their own little circle of comfort. There are some terrific young people entering our profession, and there are also many “diamonds in the rough” already in our organizations that might learn, grow and thrive because of someone like you.