Successful Mentoring: Part 2
In the last issue, I reviewed some of the ways a mentor can help your career.
If this prompted you to think about ways you might benefit from the support of a mentor, you may be wondering how to find such a person. Read on to discover how to set your mentoring relationship up for success.
As you know from the previous article, some of the ways a mentor can help you include providing support, enabling you to broaden your perspectives, and building your resource system.
But how can you find the person that is right for you at this point in your career and work life? Consider the questions below to begin creating successful mentoring relationships.
1. Review what you already know about how you learn best
Even if you are new to mentoring, you already have a lot of experience of learning in other contexts.
Make a list of successful learning experiences and who was involved in them. Include any formal and informal learning for different areas of your life. Your list can include anyone that you feel positively influenced your learning.
When you look at the list, is there anything you notice about the people you have included? Maybe they have a particular style of communication or set of values. Do you learn best from people with specific qualities or approaches?
Analyzing your learning style and previous successful learning experiences is a great first step to finding a mentor with whom you can work successfully.
2. Know what you are looking for
This may seem obvious but it is easy to jump in without really thinking about your personal and professional goals. Your needs and goals will change at different phases of your career and work life.
Knowing your desired outcomes will help you identify someone who can meet your needs. For example, if improving your communication with your team is one of your priorities, finding a mentor with excellent communication skills might be one of your top criteria. K
Knowing what you are looking for helps you to be more directed in your search. An individual who is highly skilled in the area you want to develop can both model skilled behaviors, but also provide feedback and guidance on which changes you can make to improve your own skills.
This gives you opportunities to learn in multiple ways though observation, feedback, and practicing new behaviors.
3. Successful mentoring is based on a successful relationship.
Getting clear about your personal preferences is helpful as you begin to search for your ideal mentor. Be ready to discuss your preferences with your potential mentor.
There is no single recipe for a successful mentoring relationship, but the form and process must work for both mentor and mentee. Some aspects of the relationship to consider include preferred degree of formality, structure, and time investment.
These of course can be adapted as the relationship develops, but being prepared and sharing expectations from the beginning will support the successful development of an effective working relationship.
Although mentoring is often about trying out new ways of doing things, doing this requires trust and openness within the relationship. If you and your potential mentor are too far apart regarding your views on what works best in the mentoring relationship, it may be better to find a different mentor.
In the next issue, we will explore the other side of the coin by discussing how to be a good mentor. If you are experiencing the benefit of the support of a mentor, you may wish to share that with others. Coming soon: how to mentor others.
Do you have experience that you would like to share?
Share your views by adding your comments below.