Tips for Thanking Your Mentor

January 19, 2017
Millennial Retention

Although January 19 is recognized as "Thank Your Mentor Day," you don't have to wait another year to reach out to your mentor! Whether you're new in the mentoring program, a mentor who's had a mentor, or a graduate of the mentoring program, giving thanks to an employee who's contributed to your professional life really affirms your sincerity. [Click to Tweet]

Also, people don't forget kindness. By recognizing the contributions from your mentor you are reinforcing that behavior to others and a light, emotional touch can be beneficial for employee engagement.

When giving your thank you here are a few tips to remember: 


  • 1) Be professional, but personal: Now this doesn't mean you have to be dry, which is mistaken for professionalism. You want to be sincere, but following a "proper template" will evoke a generic tone and deprive you from your own voice. Avoid crass jokes, or crude language; instead include a common memory between the two of you or begin it with an affectionate nickname - if appropriate.
  • 2) Acknowledge why your thanking the mentor: This is the main reason for the letter and you want to be specific. Whether it is a certain personality trait, a situation, or the quality of the mentor relationship, being direct is the way to go. For example: "I really appreciated you taking the time guiding me with [client] when I began working here. You helped build me to be the person I am today."
  • 3) Show action: Perhaps with the guidance you've received from your mentoring relationship, you have now become the mentor yourself, or have received that coveted promotion. These are all things you have gained because of your mentor and you should communicate the benefits received from their mentoring. It will also make your mentor feel glad that they were a part of that journey with you.
  • 4) Avoid email: Emails, like text messages, can be considered informal channels of communication when you are giving gratitude. If you or your mentor are typically busy, send an email requesting a ten minute phone call or meeting. If you are someone who's more emotionally reserved, a handwritten letter is an equally great channel to express your thank you.

Whether your mentor relationship is long-term, or short-term, show your appreciation! Most of all, think of how you could pay it forward.  For every one person that's helped you, look for ways you could assist at least two others with less tenure, credentials, or resources than you have. The best way to show appreciation is by paying it forward.

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