To gain your respect and admiration, and to maximize the relationship and your time, the mentee must account for his or her actions (good or bad) to you because you are in a superior position to judge the mentee’s actions, provide encouragement or initiate correction. Flying solo without regard to others and the rules that govern relationships is not tolerated regardless of talent. In other words, extraordinary talent neither exempts nor excuses the mentee from accountability. Likewise, ordinary or subpar performance due to low expectations or otherwise is no defense to accountability. Ultimately, we all must give an account for our lives and how we expend time, resources and influence. The mentee must understand and embrace the following about accountability, or you may be wasting your time.
- Mentees need someone to regularly ask difficult questions about them, their choices and their actions.
- Mentees often rationalize their behavior and have the ability to deceive themselves regarding performance. Accountability mitigates deception and exposes the truth.
- Mentees should view accountability positively and report back to you for celebration, correction, strengthening and encouragement. You are there to teach and advise, not sit in judgment. Accountability is not for accumulating “gotchas” to be used against the mentee.
- Mentees understand that he or she must be accountable to you because you, as the mentor, will be held accountable to stakeholders for the mentee’s development or lack thereof. You’ve worked hard to develop your reputation and brand, so you need to protect them. Take reasonable risks and set clear expectations that provide you with the flexibility needed to make adjustments if the mentee consistently stumbles.
- Mentees know that there’s a continuum of consequences for the lack of accountability.
In short, the mentee is accountable for his or her God-given talents, skills and abilities and those acquired through education, experience and training. You can help the mentee deploy those talents, skills and abilities by making the mentee account for his or her actions in a manner that produces growth. If you determine that the mentee is prepared to accept the burden of accountability, then further vetting is appropriate. Is the mentee teachable? I’ll provide insights on teachability in mentoring next. Stay tuned.