For some reason, the idea of a mentor seems like an old fashioned concept doesn’t it? Some thing that might create mental images of knights and squires, or even Jedi, certainly not something that can work in contemporary working relationships. Sure, maybe your guidance counselor or sports coach was kind of a mentor, but that was years ago…
In education, it is recognized that teaching a student one to one can be more effective than in a traditional classroom setting. Here a teacher can model the teaching to their student instead of fitting it around a group. They can work with their student better. Mentorship works the same way.
Mentoring today helps you to reach the success you deserve.
More and more businesses are beginning to realize the many benefits of establishing mentor and mentee relationships as a great method of career development, and indeed personal development in their employees. 71% of Fortune 500 companies use some kind of mentorship system in their organisations.
On a personal level, having someone on your back who knows the challenges and pitfalls of a trade or business can help you reach a level of success that would otherwise be harder to achieve. There have been many articles and pieces written about how mentoring can help women and minority employees reach the recognition and success they deserve that may have been otherwise harder out of reach for them.
Both the mentor and the mentee can benefit from a strong mentor relationship.
It would be easy to think that only the one being mentored will be benefiting from the mentor/mentee relationship. Perhaps, to the more experienced mentor, having to show someone the ropes of a profession might even be a burden. However, with a strong mentor relationship both parties can benefit really well.
Most obviously, fulfilling the role of a mentor can foster great communication and leadership skills that can benefit the mentor long after they stop being someone’s mentor. In this way it is in their best interest to be a good mentor.
Here’re some hallmarks of a great mentorship.
So, having a great mentor is clearly a hugely beneficial experience. However how can these benefits be attained? What does a good mentorship actually look like?
- A great mentor will be committed to their mentee, and likewise the mentee will be committed to their mentor. Because of this, both parties will soon get to know the other’s strengths and weaknesses. With this your mentor will be able to push you in a direction that works best for you.
- Someone who has been around for a while, has achieved success in your field, will invariably know people. People that would otherwise be out of reach to you if you didn’t have a mentor. That old saying “it’s all about who you know” can be pretty accurate. With a mentor, not only do you know someone worth knowing, you know someone who is working hard to make sure you achieve success.
- A mentor will be able to give you perspective. Its easy to lose a sense of purpose and direction stuck in the old 9-5, the drudgery, the grind. A mentor will be able to show you not only how to get the best results from your current working patterns, but also, by merely being there, will show you where your current path may take you.
Be a great mentee if you want to get the most of your mentorship.
Even if having a mentor sounds like something you might be interested in, it can sometimes be hard to know how to best fulfill your end of the bargain, and what you can do to to get the most out of your mentor. Here are a few pointers to get you on the right track.
- Be open to criticism and advice, or, better still, seek out further advice and criticism from your mentor. Without such information, there is little real use in having a mentor, and also improvement, and with it, advancement, is much harder to achieve.
- Follow up on their advice. It goes without saying that they are your mentor because they have much more experience and knowledge of your field. As such, each piece of advice is a gift.
- Consider other mentors. Though in this article I have used the singular term “mentor”, it is not unheard of to have more than one. This both takes the pressure (and extra workload) off a single person. It will also give you access to a deeper pool of knowledge and experience (assuming mentors are interested in sharing with you).
- Don’t pressure them, in particular work on their terms. Remember that they are doing you a service, though they are your mentor, they are almost certainly doing this as a volunteer. If you start to become a drag, or get in the way of their work and their own advancement and goals, (it’s possible they are someone’s mentee too!) then you may soon find yourself without a mentor, or have one who doesn’t care much about you or your success. Both can be deadly.
Reach out to the potential mentors skilfully.
All the above is all well and good, but you want to know how to actually get a mentor. The reality of the matter is, it’s tricky. Firstly: You should consider someone in your business or field that you want to emulate, someone reachable.
Secondly: Do not, I repeat: do not ask them to be your mentor if they’ve never heard of you. Unfortunately this is the hardest part, but it makes sense. If they don’t know you or are not on their radar at least. Then you’re just a stranger.
Thirdly: Find ways you can help them out, this could be something as simple as retweeting their blog a bunch of times, or it could be something as complicated as getting them new work or clients (if that applies). It’s always a great idea to network in whatever situation or business, so at the next company party or mixer, totally attend and see where things go.
|||^||Training Journal: Is mentoring the new black?|
|||^||Real Business: What glass ceiling? Mentoring women to succeed|
|||^||MentorSET: What is Mentoring?|
|||^||HuffPost: 9 Characteristics of a Good Mentoring Relationship|
|||^||Association for Talent Development: What Exactly Is the Mentor’s Role? What Is the Mentee’s?|
|||^||Fast Company: What It Takes To Be A Good Mentee|
|||^||Insala: Top 10 Tips For Being a Good Mentee|
|||^||Forbes: How To Find A Great Mentor — First, Don’t Ever Ask A Stranger|