THE VALUE OF A MENTOR RELATIONSHIP!
Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person; the mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but they must have a certain area of expertise.
A good mentor helps a mentee to make decisions that help them reach their goals. A great mentor builds a mentee’s confidence in a way that less instruction or assurance is needed from others. A goal for me is when the mentor/mentee relationship transitions into a partnership.
Mentorship is probably the most underrated aspect of building the foundations of your career. The guidance you can potentially receive from a mentor is invaluable, and their ability to help you navigate the unknown paths of your position and reach your goals more quickly is what makes them so important.
Finding a mentor may not be as difficult as you think. You just have to know where to look:
> Your mentor might be closer than you think — Start by searching through your network. Think of friends, classmates, teachers, supervisors, coworkers — or even extended family members. Hop on LinkedIn and scroll through your connections. Your mentor could already be someone you know.
> Do a bit more research — If scouring through your network didn’t work, start a list of people you admire. Once you’ve compiled a list of names, start reaching out. Remember, just because these people might be outside of your network, you can still use your network to get in touch.
> Be specific on your mentoring goals – Before approaching a potential mentor, it’s a good idea to get specific on why you are looking for a mentor so that you can communicate that well. Why do you want a mentor? Is it to help you with coursework in school, assist you with certain issues/approaches at work? Anything you can communicate about your specific ‘why’ will help your mentor understand and evaluate your request more quickly.
As a mentor, what do you look for in a mentee? The general idea of a mentor is to help someone navigate stages of their life (e.g., family, career, health), so a good starting point for a mentee candidate is someone who is grateful for what they have but at the same time has big dreams. Personally, I consider taking on as a mentee anyone who is keen on improvement; I get excited when I hear someone say they want to take on a big challenge.
Identifying mentorship goals — for yourself and for your mentee. Good people know what to do but often allow their instincts
to be suppressed by overthinking. A good mentor helps a mentee trust themselves and make better/faster decisions to help them reach their goals. A great mentor builds a mentee’s confidence in a way such that less instruction or assurance is needed from others, over time.
Questions for your mentor: Once you’ve secured a mentor relationship, you should be ready to ask some key questions that pertain to your specific career goals or concerns, such as:
> Tell me about your career path and the decisions you made to get you to where you were, today – where are some areas where you took a risk and were thankful you did?
> How do I grow in my field – what are some areas I can focus on or who are the people who can help me gain the knowledge I need to move ahead?
> I feel I know my strengths and weaknesses pretty well [share them] – how can I improve my blind spots?
> What templates or approaches do you use for long-term strategic planning?
My goal is to always take the mentor/mentee relationship to a partnership level; I end up learning an equal amount from the mentee, which feeds my knowledge, as well. Thank you for your attention to this topic, which helps fulfill Weifield’s purpose of making the next generation better than us.
Until next time!