Importance of mentors
Mentors are extremely important people; especially if you want any form of sustainable career development. Whether you’re a new graduate at your first job or a veteran employee who’s the VP of a multi-national, you can always benefit from the guidance of a mentor. Even entrepreneurs can manage their careers and take charge of employee development through mentoring. But it is important to find the right mentor!
In fact, here are some advantages of having a mentor:
- Increase your confidence and self-esteem.
- Improve your knowledge of your career field and company.
- Gain greater visibility in the company.
- Achieve more access to growth opportunities that others may not have.
- Get guidance to plan, manage and achieve your objectives successfully.
- Develop better professional networks.
- Acquire the skills to be better employees, coaches, and mentors.
Many larger companies have mentoring programs which may be formal or informal in structure. But even if you are not part of a mentoring program, you can seek out a mentor or mentors on your own. For mentoring to be effective, employees need to take ownership and seek mentors who are the right fit. After all, you know yourself the best. So, how do you find a mentor who’s right for you?
Seven ways to find the right mentor
1. Look towards someone in your team
If you’re interested in being the best in your current department or organization, you should reach out to a person who you know has extensive experience in your domain. This will allow you to gain first-hand insights about what it takes to be a leader in your domain.
2. Find a person who you’d like to be in the future
Maybe you don’t want to remain in your current team forever. Perhaps you’re interested in being the CEO of the company. If yes, you should connect with people who are currently in the top positions, which you crave to be in in the future.
Many senior-management employees appreciate an employee’s interest, enterprise, and commitment to growth in the company. And, they willingly take such employees under their wing.
3. Network with people in intra-company events
When you attend networking events, you create opportunities for mentorship. When you actively interact with your dream mentors at events, you stand out from the crowd. Also, you increase the chances of successfully forging a mentor-mentee relationship. There’s also the added benefit of circumventing tedious hierarchical communication mechanisms that are present in the normal organizational set-up.
4. Select someone whose style you appreciate
Your mentor doesn’t have to be someone whose career trajectory you wish to emulate. It could be someone whose ideology, behavior, and mindset you believe in. Such mentors can inspire the best in you. These mentors have values similar to yours. Further, they have the potential to appreciate the visions you have for yourself and your company.
5. Choose someone who you can add value to
One thing that many employees forget is that mentoring is a two-way street. Many people would love to learn from (and not just teach) their mentees. The networks you can forge and the experience you can gain out of such a relationship are extremely powerful and long-lasting. They’ll add value to your career development and fulfillment.
6. Look outside the firm
Often, you can find the best mentors outside the four walls of your company. Look towards your family, friends, professors and business people in various fields and positions – anyone who can guide you to greatness with their expertise. Use networking opportunities to identify potential mentors outside your company. Professional associations and business networking groups provide excellent opportunities to expand your network. You can learn amazing things from people with diverse backgrounds.
7. Don’t be afraid to end a mentoring relationship
Not every mentor works out. Your needs or the mentor’s may change over time. If things don’t seem to be working, have an honest conversation with your mentor. He or she may be feeling the same way. The conversation may lead to a better approach. Mentoring should be a positive experience for both parties. It doesn’t mean you can’t remain friends. It may be the mentorship is helping you in some areas and not in others. Many individuals have more than one mentor to get a broader perspective and get guidance in different areas.
Whether it’s through a company sponsored program or on your own, having the right mentor or mentors can be very rewarding personally or professionally.