Gaining Mentors and Becoming One
Believe it or not, you might have had a mentor from the moment you were born. They came in the form of mothers, fathers, grandparents, or whoever raised you while growing up. These mentors probably helped guide you through your schooling era. However, once you enter the workforce, you’ll need a different type of mentorship.
When you think about mentorship, the image of drinking coffee, and receiving sage business advice from the high-flying CEO might come to mind. While this would be the perfect scenario, it is not usually the case. Your mentor isn’t necessarily someone in a senior position. It could be someone sitting within another department or Karen from HR.
Discover how to find your ideal mentor and how you can mentor someone else.
Three tips to help you find your mentor
To start with, your mentor should provide you with honest feedback on your skillset. Try to determine the following:
What are your goals?
Perhaps you’re looking to become a manager within the next few years. Your instinct would be to make a beeline for the manager within your department. Before you follow your manager around like a lost puppy, stop and think. Does the manager reflect the type of manager you’d like to become?
You need to identify the skillset necessary to lead. Maybe you need to be more creative or more decisive. If this is the case, find someone who has these strengths.
Scan your network
Your potential mentor might not be in the workplace, it could be someone you studied with or a former colleague. Reflect on what you admired about them, whether it’s their leadership skills or someone who held their own during a challenge. Remember that these people need to be familiar with your working style and your personality.
Attend industry events
Your ideal mentor could be waiting at a seminar or networking event! The good news is that you don’t have to look that hard to find networking events – a quick online search will help.
Make a fun night of it – rope in some of your colleagues and expand your network!
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential mentors, it’s time to pop the big question. So, how do you approach the lucky candidate? Instead of asking: “Will you be my mentor please?” try something along the lines of:
“Part of my five-year plan is to become a manager. However, I do need to build my skillset. Do you mind if I pick your brain sometime?”
What happens if they decline? Accept gracefully and don’t take it personally. Not everyone has the time to be someone’s mentor but you can still keep in touch. Now, you move on to the next person on your list.
Two tips on becoming a mentor
What happens when someone asks you to become their mentor? You do a little dance!
On a serious note, you need to be an amazing mentor and provide your mentee with the relationship that will help them develop professionally and personally.
Sounds like a lot of pressure? Don’t stress. It’s really simple:
Set expectations from the start
Decide on times to meet, how often you’ll be meeting, and the duration of the mentorship. This will help you decide on what you’ll be discussing during the meetings.
Take an interest in your mentee
The mentorship will only work if you’re interested in providing guidance. If not, then the relationship won’t be as effective and you’re probably wasting your mentee’s time.
Get to know them to discover what they’re looking to achieve. This way, you’re able to help them develop personally and professionally.
Mentorship is a rewarding experience – whether you’re a mentee or mentor. Receiving the first-hand experience from someone you admire is the best way to develop your skillset. Being a mentor is also the best way to refine your leadership skills.
Another way to develop your skills? Through online learning. Sign up for our Business Leadership and Management: Principles and Practices short course to further develop your leadership and management skills.
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