“I don’t know how I could ever repay you” is a common sentiment that actually can be a real fear for many mentees who genuinely want to show appreciation to their mentor but don’t know how, or fear they may not have the funds to support it. In fact, showing a mentor appreciation doesn’t have to be some grand gesture for them to know that you are grateful for the time they take to help you along your journey. Mentoring is a tremendously popular human resource management intervention used by many organizations to orient and develop their employees and appreciation is one way people can make the most of these relationships.
Research shows that appreciation is one of the greatest benefits that mentors derive from their relationships with their protégés. Appreciation is powerful whether it is within the context of a formal mentoring or just part of your personal approach to career development. Here are 5 simple ideas any mentee can use to show his/her mentor appreciation that that has little financial cost but can have a great impact on a mentor’s heart:
1.) A Thank You Note: In this digital age the power of a simple handwritten note gets greatly looked over. Purchasing a nice set of “Thank You” cards is very affordable, and come in handy when you want to add a personal touch to show appreciation. Want to go the extra mile? Put a stamp on it and mail it. No matter how much we depend on our electric devices, most of us still get a little excited to get physical mail. And as a side note about the value of thank you notes- I starting dating my husband because he wrote me a hand-written thank you note after I gave a presentation to his company… on what else- mentoring!
2.) A Coffee Date: Maybe you can’t afford to take them to a full lunch, but treating your mentor to a quick cup of whatever they need to recharge and refresh. Last semester, I had a protégé come in with gourmet chocolates- that got my attention and instead of the 20 minutes she had asked for I gladly spent an hour with her. Pay attention to what your mentor likes.
3.) Recommend them on LinkedIn: There is a reason you sought them out as your mentor, why you blindly emailed your resume and left voicemails on their machines. Share with their professional community why your mentor is tops in their profession and why you could have not have picked a better example to lead you through your personal and career journey. This is a nice public way to acknowledge your mentor.
4.) Lighten the Load: Is your mentor a little behind the digital curve and you’re practically an Apple employee? Hold a mini workshop for them. Small service acts that make your mentor’s life easier are both free and priceless. And full disclosure, my protégé, Mei-Li Thomas, lightened my load considerably this week by drafting this blog post!
5.) Pass it On: Nothing makes a mentor prouder than seeing the person they spent time investing in returning that investment through success and taking someone else under their wing. If you had or have an amazing mentor, pass on by becoming a mentor yourself and continue the legacy.
Once you are financially able by all means go back and treat your mentor to that dinner/crystal paperweight/marble gavel that they truly deserve. Until that time take a few of these quick tips to show appreciation. Don’t let your wallet keep you from further building a relationship that could last well beyond your career.