Mentor Me – How to choose and use a mentor to increase your professional success

Mentor Me – How to choose and use a mentor to increase your professional success

Who Needs a Mentor? Aspiring entrepreneurs, successful business people, career starters and anyone who wants to become a successful and professional woman or man can benefit from a mentor.

Chances are we’ve all had some sort of mentoring relationship. Many of us are mentors to others. In a recent study by, 64% of respondents said they had a formal or informal mentor. Successful women often credit a mentor with helping them advance in their careers.

I am fortunate to have identified mentors throughout my career who have been generous in providing me with business leads, resources, tools and tips that have enhanced my business and organizational success. My transition from a 20 year career in a large organization to owning a small business was supported by numerous mentors

From the Greek classics to modern business, the descriptions of Mentor, a character from Homer’s Odyssey from which we derive the term mentor, provide insight into the mentoring relationship.

Homer’s character mentor is a person of deep trust, a wise old man and elder who imparts knowledge and guides one to find the answers one seeks. In the modern world, a mentor essentially does the same thing. A mentor can provide advice, facilitate networking with key contacts, accelerate progress down the learning curve, help you navigate the company culture, guide decision-making, and be a source of feedback and motivation. Perhaps some of the most beneficial roles of a mentor are to empower, inspire, and believe in you and your potential for success.

Finding the Right Mentor: The first thing to consider when looking for a mentor is your goals. Define what you are looking for and where you need the support of a mentor. Then watch the success. A good mentor is someone who has been there and done that. She/he is someone who has the knowledge and insight to provide value that meets your goals. Observe the strengths of your managers, colleagues and peers in your network.

Consider those who have strengths in the areas you most need to develop. Ask them to be a mentor to you. If you want to be part of the formal mentoring program in your organization, don’t wait to be noticed. Questions. Asking what you want often is one of the most disheartening things for many worthy mentors. If you’re uncomfortable speaking out, raising your voice, and asking for support like a mentor, that becomes your number one goal for working with a mentor or coach.

Other ways to find a mentor include participating in volunteer and professional organizations inside and outside your professional organizations. You can even consider a distance tutor that you can talk to over the phone on a regular basis.

Tap different expertise. You don’t have to limit yourself to one mentor. Have an entire “Advisory Board of Mentors” if you are lucky enough to find people who are willing and able to serve in that capacity.

Female or Male Mentor: Again, choosing a female or male mentor depends on your goals. Cross-gender mentoring can have many benefits. Men and women typically have different strengths. Men can provide guidance in developing the skills to work in a male-dominated field; Men often have good negotiating skills and tend to make up the majority of leaders in an organization, so they can advance your career by enhancing your relationships with other leaders. Women’s strengths include dealing with gender stereotypes, building a network of business relationships, team management…

Be mentor-worthy: Use your mentor’s time productively. Complaining or whining is not a constructive use of your time with your mentor. Here are ten tips for a successful mentoring relationship.

* Know what you want and have clear goals for the relationship.

* Communicate your expectations of your mentor

* Be open, honest and direct with your mentor.

* Prioritize action or support.

* Arrive prepared with topics to be discussed at each meeting.

* Don’t expect your mentor to be an expert in all facets of the business.

* Ask for and use resources and connections with other members in the organization

* Get feedback from your mentor. Don’t take engineering upgrades personally

* Realize that feedback from a good mentor is in your best interest.

* Take action. Even if your mentor asks you to stretch outside of your comfort zone.

Have a Mentor and Be a Mentor: Be a mentor – enhance someone else’s journey by sharing your time, wisdom, insight and experience. Don’t doubt that you have something to offer someone else in a mentoring relationship – most likely you do. Here are 12 tips to help you be a good mentor.

* Set clear expectations and boundaries for the relationship

* Create a positive constructive atmosphere.

* Give the mentee the choice to accept, reject, or consider advice.

* Listen and hear what is being said and what is not

* Identify opportunities and offer decision support and solutions.

* Use a problem solving, coach approach, asking questions and soliciting input from mentees.

* Provide honest and direct feedback. Don’t avoid harsh conversations.

* Share stories including mistakes from personal experience – your career “do-overs”.

* Encourage the mentee to do “homework” to encourage growth.

* Serve as a liaison with other business colleagues by inviting them to lunches, meetings, etc.

* Be open and ask the mentee for feedback

* Be fully present at mentor meetings.

Divorce from your mentor: Mentoring relationships will eventually end. One reason is that expectations of the mentor or mentee are not being met. Other times there are clashes of personality or style. Pitfalls related to “fit” are not uncommon. It is also possible to grow out of the mentoring relationship. Building a mentoring relationship with a “till death do us part” attitude is not the best approach.

A good way to avoid an issue that ends a mentoring relationship is to set time limits and expectations early in the relationship. A three-month period of weekly meetings is a good starting point. Each party has the option to request an extension of the relationship at the end of the expected period. It pays to keep going and find new and different mentors. A new mentor can further expand your knowledge, skills and perspectives. You are never too experienced to benefit from the support of a mentor.

Thanks to Jean Caton | #Mentor #choose #mentor #increase #professional #success


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