Project Management

5 Ways to Up Your Mentorship Game

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Are You a Mentor…or a Micromanager?


By Yasmina Khelifi, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA

Whether it’s for a volunteer association or a corporate organization, mentorship can help you learn and grow as a leader. The topic comes up a lot as I speak to different professionals and here are some of the lessons learned I’ve gained on the subject—both as a mentor and as a mentee:

1. Don’t rely only on corporate programs.

A few years ago, I began taking part in a corporate mentoring program. I’d been waiting for it and saw it as a silver bullet—giving me all the answers to my career questions. Going into it with so many expectations, it’s not surprising that I was disappointed. Still, it’s still worth inquiring if corporate programs exist in your firm and exploring how to benefit from them—plus, you can become a mentor yourself. Just don’t make it the only avenue you pursue.

2. Be open to mentorship from unexpected places.

When I first began leading projects, a colleague gave me some advice during the meeting: "Perhaps you should have said that instead of this.” At the time, I didn’t understand he was acting as a mentor to me. And in hindsight, I wish I’d been more grateful to him for his advice and that I’d spoken with him more regularly. It was a missed opportunity and a lesson on being open to taking direction.

3. Set the ground rules.

This is particularly important if the mentors are in your work environment. Some areas to explore are:

  • Expectations
  • Confidentiality
  • Duration and frequency of meetings
  • Constraints: In the corporate program I mentioned, the mentee was supposed to organize the meeting, but my mentor was very busy and had to cancel sometimes.

4. Keep your word.

At the beginning of this year, a young colleague asked me if I wanted to be her mentor. I admired her courage to ask and I wish I’d done the same at the beginning of my career. So I accepted without hesitation.

We talked once a month on the phone and I tried to answer her questions as best I could. I was consistent—and that’s important. As a mentor—and a mentee—you must be reliable: When a meeting is planned, stick to it, remain present and don’t multitask throughout.

5. Don’t give up.

In one of my work projects, I talked with a top manager with global experience. When I dared to ask him to become my mentor, I didn’t receive an answer. But that doesn’t mean you should just surrender: You can knock on other doors that will open. And eventually you’ll be part of a community where you can exchange ideas and build bridges to knowledge sharing.

How do you encourage mentorship within your project teams?


Posted by Yasmina Khelifi on: June 01, 2021 08:42 AM | Permalink

Comments (16)

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Thanks Yasmina,
My take home is this "Don’t rely only on corporate programs and just don’t make it the only avenue you pursue

Dear Yasmina
Very interesting the theme that brought to our reflection and debate
Thanks for sharing and for your opinions

I am convinced that there is a big difference between mentoring and coaching

Hi Kwiyuh, thank you for reading my post and yes be open to other opportunities! stay safe, Yasmina

Hi Luis, thank you for reading my post! yes mentoring and coaching are different: both are important.


Great and very solid points. One important additional point: I always advise individual to looks for mentors who teach out of their own personal experience, not out of theory.


Thank you Rami for your feedback and the important additionnal comment. Stay safe!

Muito Bom!!!

Those are words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing!

Thank you for highlighting the importance of mentorship. I do see that some of the PMI chapters are offering Mentorship Circle programs as a platform to share your experiences and learn from the experts.

Thanks for a great sharing. Constraint as part of the ground rules is an excellent revelation & I certainly will keep this in mind from now on. Thanks again!

Hi Bob, thank you so much for your feedback! obrigado, Yasmina

Hi Willima, thank you for your positive feedback, Yasmina

Hi Anuj, thank you for your feedback. Yes some PMI chapters offer mentoring indeed. But sometimes it is hard and heavy to organize. So if it is not the case in your chapter, don't give up and look for other ways of mentoring.

Hi Nur, thank you for your feedback. For me it is important to keep your word. If you're too busy to mentor someone, then better not to do it.and it's important to be present. For instance, as a new mentor, I promised myself never to cancel a e meeting. Last time the mentee canceled at short notice, and it was ok. I am here to help her and answer her questions: what does one hour a month mean in a life? good luck as a mentee and as a mentor!

Hi Yasmina,
As in every relationship, trust between mentor and mentee is critical for mentorship success and for that, one of the relevant aspects is "keep your word", as mentioned in the post. Empathy, respect, find common ground as ice-breaker and sincere willingness to help one another are also at the top of my list.
Thanks! for sharing your experiences and lessons learned.

Excellent points. An additional point is that mentorship is something that can be and is carried out globally on a virtual basis. It would be interesting to mentor a trainee from a completely different culture and country.

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