The Executive Woman's Guide to Mentoring

Successful women who've served in both roles explain what makes a mentoring relationship work, how to find the right person and knowing when to part.

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For Klock, a mentoring relationship should end when both parties feel they have met their objectives, or when they determine that the objectives are no longer important to complete. Formal mentoring also can end when the mentee reaches the point of being more of a peer either inside or outside of the company. This does not mean that the mentee can never again approach her mentor. "I still go back to a few mentors for advice periodically. I don't know that I have ever shut off that relationship completely," says Klock.

Indeed, "old" mentoring relationships often turn into friendships. "Those relationships go on forever," says Maini.

When the relationship isn't working out, it's important to be honest. "It's better to part than to make it burdensome," says Maini. "Just be adult about it."

Being a mentor isn't always easy. Aside from the time and energy requirements, a mentor has to remain neutral in helping a mentee handle a problem. The mentor must leave out her own feelings (i.e. what she would do personally) in coaching the mentee to weigh all options and come to a conclusion herself, says Klock.

Despite mentoring's challenges, it's worth the effort to earn the rewards. Says Maini, "Mentoring is important and should play a role in one's career. Use the experience to grow and navigate and move up."

The women in this story are all members of the CIO Executive Council, a professional association of IT leaders founded by CIO magazine. The Council runs a networking and best-practice-sharing program for women IT executives. For more information on this program and Council membership, visit www.cioexecutivecouncil.com.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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