The Importance of Mentors
Job success is a combination of many factors, from your skill set and knowledge, to business acumen and how you interact with colleagues. One area that can also help with your career goals is having a mentor. Many people disregard the role mentoring can play to workplace success.
Why align yourself with a mentor? A mentor is someone who has the experience or knowledge you seek, and can help in your current role or assist with future opportunities. This is usually someone you respect and who holds a position you aspire to, or is in field you seek to enter. It could also be someone that you admire for how they conduct their job, and balance it with family life. They are there to share ideas and guide you through daily workplace issues. Essentially, a mentor is someone that you respect.
How do you go about finding a workplace mentor? It may sound simple, but the first step is to look and ask. Look to current and past associates, or members of groups and organizations you would like to become affiliated with. Look to people at your current job – other than your boss. This is someone who can share insights and advice, and has the time and is willing to invest in a long–term relationship. Many employers also have on–the–job mentoring programs. Be sure to research whether your company has one and participate.
Now that you have identified your mentor, the next step is to approach them with a plan. What do you want to cull from this relationship? You may decide that you want to develop a certain skill set and you are looking to your mentor to share their knowledge. Or you may wish to pursue another career. A mentor can help identify how to approach these goals.
Outlining your plan to a mentor is important – this helps you both work towards common ground and also sets clear guidelines and expectations on the role each of you will play in the relationship. It is also helpful to set scheduled meetings, if possible. Don’t overburden your mentor with demanding too much of their time.
You’ve chosen your mentor because they have knowledge and experience. This means, listen to their advice. Build a relationship of trust and openness. Listen to what they have to say, and be open to suggestions – even constructive criticism. Having an open line of communication will be advantageous to you both.
You can have more than one mentor. Different times in your career may call for different mentoring relationships. Or your multiple goals may require seeking a mentor to guide you with each. You and your current mentor should also mutually agree to part ways at any time.
Lastly, regularly thank your mentor for their investment to your career success – even if you choose to part ways. Thanking those in your network for their contribution towards your professional growth is always an appropriate business practice. This can go a long way. And one way to show your appreciation for mentoring is to choose to become a mentor yourself.