Over my career, I have found that having a mentor can be just as rewarding as being one.
Being a mentor involves not only providing career advice and guidance, but offers the opportunity to help someone grow as an individual. When you make the investment in someone’s professional growth, it also means helping them endure setbacks without losing confidence and focus. Their success, is in part a result of practical and actionable advice. The key is making the right match built on trust, working with someone you have a real connection with, and who is willing to make the investment in you that can be realized over time.
In a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review of 45 CEOs who had mentors, 84% indicated that having mentors helped them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient in their roles faster. Also, 71% felt that the mentoring they received helped increase the overall company performance as well.
Following are some tips that I have picked up over the years that helped me find the right mentor:
- Before you search for a mentor, you need to be clear and upfront regarding your expectations.
- Identify someone who not only excels in his/her career or expertise, but can inspire you to improve. This can be someone at a more senior level, however, do not underestimate the power of looking at colleagues.
- Identify the areas that you need to learn or achieve success, or shorten your learning curve to thrive in your professional endeavors.
- Find someone who has walked in your shoes and can be sympathetic to the challenges you face. This should not be a competitive relationship.
- Find someone that potentially shares the same excitement that you do about your career and the areas that you want to improve upon.
- Keep an open mind – it is okay to find more than one mentor. Don’t put too much pressure on one relationship as they may not have all the answers. You can benefit from listening to different points of view.
Don’t forget that the key to a successful mentor/mentee relationship is that you must earn it. Have a plan for every meeting and discussion and show the person that their attention is valuable. Let them know how they have made an impact – be a fan!