Mentors. They’re one of the most important ingredients to a successful legal career — so important, in fact, that my firm, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, dedicates an entire month to recognizing and celebrating mentorship. And, at most large firms, every student and associate has a formal mentor.
But mentor-mentee relationships take hard work and lots of nurturing, and even the busiest professionals in this country know that. Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the Board at RBC, spoke earlier this year at a mentoring event hosted by my firm. Her advice for mentees stuck with me. Out of her recommendations for getting the most out of your mentorships, here are my two favourites.
Encourage your mentor to push you beyond your comfort level.
A mentor’s purpose is not to make the mentee feel better, but to get better — a refreshing reminder that mentees should push their mentors to provide constructive feedback. More often than not, feedback and “stretch assignments” that take you out of your comfort zone are well-intentioned and come from the people who want to see you succeed.
Tell your mentor when you put her advice into practice.
Nothing is more rewarding for a mentor than finding out you followed or profited from her guidance. Mentees often forget that they do what they do because it’s rewarding for them, too. Implementation is the sincerest form of gratitude. Make sure your mentors know that you listened to them.