MENTOR ME – why you need a mentor and how to get the best from one
In searching for success at work, have you thought about finding a mentor? Perhaps you’re unsure what such a person does or how to find one. Or how to get the best from them?
A mentor can be a valuable resource for your personal and professional growth. This is someone you learn to trust to provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career or personal development goals.
Because of their experience, they can help you identify areas for improvement and suggest how to reach your goals. Your mentor may have nothing directly to do with your current employer.
A mentor can help you in many ways, such as
Inspire you with how they’ve overcome setbacks
Give you insight into an industry or profession
Test out your thinking
Offer tips and guidance on your career situation
Help with CV strengthening and how you come across
Give you interview practice
Encourage you and cheer you on
Advise on promotion and the next steps in your career
The joy of mentors is their ability to offer a different perspective on life and your career. Their insights can help you overcome career challenges. Best of all, they can provide invaluable support during change or uncertainty.
Overall, your mentor can be a valuable sounding board, helping you to grow and develop. Seeking one could be one of the best decisions you can make. This is different from wanting a coach. The key differences are focus and relationship.
Focus: Your mentor will usually have a holistic, perhaps unique approach, providing guidance and support on a broad range of issues. A coach usually concentrates on specific skills or areas of improvement, such as performance or productivity.
Relationship: Your relationship with a mentor will often be informal, evolving over time. Coaching relationships tend to be more structured and within a time boundary.
To get the best from your mentor, take an active role in the process. Here are some ways to do that:
Identify your goals: clarify what you want from your mentor. Sharing your goals and expectations helps your mentor understand how best to support you.
Be open to feedback: Show your willingness to listen to your mentor's advice. Because they’ve likely been through similar experiences, their insights can be invaluable and provide new ways of thinking about your work situation.
Schedule regular meetings: take the initiative to fix definite times to meet with your mentor in person or online. Regularity helps you remain on track and ensures you’re making progress towards your goals.
Try new things: your mentor will expect you to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. By pointing you towards new opportunities and challenges, the mentor helps you grow and develop.
Show appreciation: be careful not to take your mentor for granted. Be sure to show gratitude for their time and effort. Acknowledge their help to let them know how their guidance has affected you.
Suppose you’ve decided that a mentor is a good idea. How would you go about finding one?
Look first within your organisation or industry. Many employers have formal mentorship programs. Or you may know someone who could be a good fit. What matters is that you can trust this person to be on your side and have the right amount of empathy and insight. Or you could make use of your professional network. Ask colleagues, friends, or other professionals in your field if they know of anyone who might be a good mentor for you. If necessary, join a professional association or networking group.
Your organisation may even have mentorship programs or opportunities to connect with more experienced professionals in your industry. Be sure to ask for access to this.
In seeking a mentor, choose someone you particularly admire. Consider reaching out to them to ask if they would consider mentoring you. Do so in a respectful and considerate way.
Finding one may take time and effort, but you won’t regret taking it.
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