Teachable moments abound, and the mentee’s level of vulnerability determines the mentee’s teachability. The mentee must be willing to learn through formal and informal lessons.  You and the mentee should identify learning opportunities from which the mentee can glean meaningful insights and then implement the lessons learned in a way that produces tangible results. A crucial element of learning is listening, so the mentee must be a great listener before implementation can occur.  Does the mentee understand that listening to instruction can lead him or her out of the current situation or help them leverage an opportunity? Make sure the mentee is not an arrogant “know it all” seeking a relationship with you for what the mentee can get rather than give.  The mentee should not presume to know too much, especially more than you.  If the mentee is not teachable, he or she will be left behind in an ever changing world and your investment will not produce long term results.  In order to keep advancing, the mentee must keep learning, growing and stretching beyond current competencies to strengthen existing ones and developing new ones. 

When teachable, the mentee is willing to relinquish control to someone greater than him or her, which is often antithetical to corporate culture where many are conditioned to never show weakness or admit lack of knowledge.  Share the benefits of teachable attitude with the mentee:  

  • The mentee will learn and acquire diverse skill sets that can provide competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • The mentee will be able to identify and leverage additional opportunities with confidence because the mentee learned how to navigate and operate various contexts.
  • The mentee will avoid the blunders made by others and spared the shame or embarrassment associated with those blunders.
  • The mentee will model positive behaviors that can help to strengthen or change a company’s culture.
  • The mentee will gain your respect and admiration because a teachable attitude makes your job as mentor easier and more enjoyable.

Do your homework on the mentee, but do not require perfection.  A teachable spirit is sufficient.  If you determine that the mentee is prepared to accept the burden of teachability, then use another screen to assess whether the mentee is worth the benefits you provide. Stay tuned for more of my mentoring insights.




Martin's picture
Electing to mentor someone through the difficulties of a hectic business world can greatly influence the outcome of that persons' career, this article is valuable in that it gives insight on what to look for in a 'mentee.' If you are going to put that much time and effort into imparting your wisdom into an up-and-coming businessman (or woman), you should select carefully.

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