In most professional fields of business, having mentors is a plus. Finding one is another story. In this article we look at everything you need to know about getting your mentoring relationship off to a great start.
Characteristics of a great mentor
There are certain important qualities that great mentors will have. He or she should have expertise, knowledge, and a willingness to share such success and skills. The person must be willing to teach what he or she has learned in the business and to accept you for where you are in your profession. A key to this kind of person is someone who remembers what it was like to be just getting started in the business.
Remember that good mentors showcase the traits for success. They are willing to demonstrate the qualities of productivity, including actions and behaviours necessary to achieve success in their specific field. Good mentors will never take such a responsibility lightly. They personally invest in the mentee’s success.
Such a person needs to be either a good trainer or teacher. This person also needs top notch skills at communicating. These mentors are dedicated to assisting their mentees to obtain success in their specialty or profession. They empower the mentees to improve their beliefs, strengths, and personal abilities.
Why you need one for success
First you need to understand why it is so important to have a good mentoring relationship. These professionals demonstrate enthusiasm for their field. This is contagious, helping a newer employee to feel the meaning and possibilities in their new position. These mentors place a high value on growth and continuing education in the field or business, which can only help you the mentee. Such professionals will show you how the field is changing and expanding so that you realise there are always more things to learn.
Seeing your mentor’s success will help you to understand that the energy and time you invest in learning the profession will be rewarding and will include satisfaction in the role. These mentors will demonstrate the value of continuous experimentation and learning new things in the field or business. Their excitement to share the knowledge with those new to the field and to show how seriously they take teaching this knowledge is contagious and exciting. They will encourage you to go to professional conferences and workshops in professional associations to expand and grow in the profession.
Good mentors offer helpful feedback and useful guidance as well. This is the best opportunity for growth in learning their present weaknesses and strengths and how to improve on them to become successful in the role. They do this through fantastic communication skills that enable them to challenge you to push the limits of your professional abilities and development so that you attain a sense of accomplishment in the field.
How to approach prospective mentors
It is critical to approach your choice of mentors in the right manner. You should never simply walk up to the person and ask them to be your mentor straight away. That is too much for the initial approach. Instead, you should ask for a first meeting in an informal setting, like getting a coffee. It should not take up more than an hour.
At this meeting, you should be prepared to ask questions of the mentor but allow the conversation to go back and forth as in a relationship. When you have doubts about asking for the mentor relationship, you should just go ahead, especially if the meeting has gone well.
There is time to evaluate your initial meeting and decide if spending more time with the individual will aid in your professional development. Ask yourself if he or she made suggestions or gave encouragement for what you should do next. Did the person ask any questions in return, or answer the ones you asked? If you left this meeting feeling more confident in yourself and a connection happened naturally, then you should pursue asking them take on the mentoring relationship.
Following up on the initial meeting is critical, and doing it immediately is key. You can frame this in a thank you for their time, via passive communication, like email or a text message. In the end, you can state that you would like to get together again. If the person reciprocates these wishes, then schedule something that works mutually proactively.
How to get the most out of your mentor
By realising that mentoring is organic, you will be prepared to allow it to naturally progress and grow as with other types of relationships. This means that it requires time to develop and is based on a mutually shared trust and respect. In your enthusiasm, you should be careful not to force the mentoring relationship. It can kill it quickly. Allow it time to grow.
This brings up another crucial point— you should not give up just because it becomes challenging. Good mentors will challenge their mentees at some point. This is almost a given. You will reach a relational point where he or she is confident enough to call you out on something. This is the point where you do not run. You signed up for tough love and growth. This is the stage when the truly useful exchange occurs.
How to show your mentor you mean business
It is incredibly important to show your choice of mentors that you are serious about this commitment and relationship. You do not have to always wait for him or her to initiate things either. Cordially ask your mentor for the help you are seeking. There is a difference between being persistent and a pest though. It is an honor to your mentor that you ask for more of his or her help nicely and respectfully. It proves your sincerity and commitment. Strengthening this relationship proves you mean business.
You should also have the courage to request feedback from your mentoring partner. This can be difficult to accept, but it proves that you are interested in this best way to grow. A good mentoring partner will approach such moments with sensitivity and careful thoughtfulness.
Committing to the process is the most important way you demonstrate your sincerity. It takes longer than a summer internship period to be effectively mentored. It requires serious work and a true time investment. You must commit to the relationship for it to be true mentorship. Then you will start to learn what it means to be a disciple or budding protege.