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How to Find a Mentor That Helps Fast-Track Your Career Success

How to Find a Mentor That Helps Fast-Track Your Career Success

It takes some courage to venture into the employment world and start building a career or maybe a business. Your education will certainly help, as well as your previous experience. However, to truly shine, you will need a guide to show you the way. Sheryl Sandberg[1] says that women who have mentors are more accomplished and have more confidence in the workplace. The same could probably be said for men, too.

Mentorship is important because starting out can be overwhelming and scary. But finding the right mentor doesn’t come so easily. It is not an answer to the yes or no question or luck. Finding a mentor needs hard work, ambition and persistence. Here’s how you can put that to task and find yourself a great mentor.

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Be Clear about What Help You Need from Your Mentor

Before you go looking, sit down and think hard about what you want and need from your mentor. Ask yourself whether you want help with a current project or someone for the long-run who knows the insides and outs of your field.

Perhaps you are starting a clothing line and you want to put your company and brand on the map. Asking a fellow company can be a nice idea but not the best one. What works for them might not be applicable to your brand, market, and what if your finances can’t support that plan? Checking in with a similar brand but from a different branch could be better. Because of the similarities, they will understand you, you will feel closer to them, and some great ideas might be born out of that collaboration.

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With that said, prior to seeking help, know what your end game is. Having some kind of a starting point could lead you in the right direction. Once that is set up, everything else will come into place naturally.

Demonstrate Your Potential to Your Mentor

Approaching someone and saying, “Hey, will you be my mentor?” is not the way to go. This is not a store where you can walk in and ask if they have those jeans in size 12. Acquiring a mentor takes work. Instead of going from person to person asking, why don’t you show them what you can do? Demonstrate your potential. Show them your previous projects, or, if you’ve been following their work, why not show them how you would have done it. Your mentor will want to know what you are capable of. Just saying it is not convincing enough.

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It’s Better to Find Someone You Know to be Your Mentor

Your mentor will not be just any random stranger. It will, and should, be someone you are familiar with. This might mean someone you are working with or an acquaintance. Heck, it might be a person outside of work, or outside of your career field. It can be your neighbour, for all you know. But if that is not the case, if no one on your contact list fits the description, you need to go out and find them. Polish your networking skills and learn how to win someone over.[2]

Contribute Something in Return to Show You’re Not Only a Taker

The relationship you are about to start should be a two-way street. Don’t be selfish and expect not to give anything in return. Actually, by showcasing that you can be beneficial to the potential mentor only increases your chancing of getting one. Not a single person will be willing to work for nothing. Use your skills to help on something they are working on, support them, share your thoughts and opinions. This way they will know that they can count on you and that you are not here just to use their knowledge without giving back.

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Careers can be tough to make, but holding your ground and keeping your ambition should get you through the rough patch. Just think of those you admire — they had to start somewhere, too. Accept that you will have bad moments, but don’t let that drag you down. Stand firmly on your feet, keep your head high and have tenacity — just like those mentors. After all, isn’t that what made them?

Reference

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Milica Mladenovic

Content Writer, Blogger

How to Find a Mentor That Helps Fast-Track Your Career Success

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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