By Wilma Bedford
Have you sometimes wondered why you seem to climb the ladder of success at a slower pace than your colleagues even though you are reliable and hardworking? It could be that you don’t have a mentor.
Mentors are people whose opinions, guidance and advice you need if you want a smooth career path. They are sounding boards for your new ideas and they enlighten you of what goes on behind the scene. They are well-placed and respected employees who can guide you to the people who decide who moves up and who stays behind – the executives. They also bring insights into new developments that were not present when they were young. The right mentor will recognise your potential and prompt you to develop your skills, watch out for you and help you get the more challenging assignments.
Choose the right mentor
- Determine whether your company has a mentoring programme and then make use of it, or otherwise find a trustworthy person whom you respect inside or outside the organisation.
- Choose a person who shares your professional outlook, someone with whom you can share ideas, who will critique you positively and who will inspire you. This person will try to challenge you to improve, will ask tough questions and deliver real feedback; it will therefore be a person you trust and with whom you communicate well.
- Your mentor must be someone whose work, life and achievements you admire and who you would want to emulate.
- Trust and compatibility are of the essence. Mutual trust ensures that you both feel comfortable letting your guard down because you know that your sessions are held in confidentiality. You will have to accept criticism graciously from your mentor too.
- Choose a person eight to fifteen years older than yourself; younger than that and you will be more likely to become friends, more than fifteen years older and you may end up in a quasi-parent-child relationship.
- Take care not to choose someone working in the same company where a potential romantic liaison can develop as a working relationship may become hard to maintain and this can eventually ruin your and the mentor’s careers. This has to remain a business friendship.
- It is also wise to have more than one mentor as they may leave the company at a time inconvenient to you. Besides, no one person can provide all the guidance you need.
- Pick people who will take the time to explain everything you should know and expend the effort to make sure you get the assignment right.
- Determine the specific goals or skills you wish to develop and commit to a 12–18 month mentoring relationship.
Once you have identified a possible mentor, spend some time with this person outside the work environment and get to know him or her. Do you adopt the same approach to problem-solving as your mentor? How does he react to you? Does he inspire you? Is he open to talking about his success? Once a person agrees to mentor you, be explicit in what your expectations and goals are and what time frame you expect to need for your accomplishment. Establish a regular meeting and time schedule with your mentor.
What is in it for the mentor? The mentor may groom a successor and may need a new pillar of management in the company.
How to find a mentor
D’Angelo, Matt. Nov. 4, 2018. Business News Daily https://www.businessnewsdaily.com
How to ask someone to be your mentor. Dec 2012 http://www.getsmarter.com