Everything you need to know about the #powerofmentoring, powered by MentorCloud. 


Parallels: Drawing Comparisons Between Youth Mentoring and Business Mentoring

A lot of research into the impact of mentoring on success has been done on youth mentoring, either at a college level or earlier. This research has proven that mentoring itself is highly transformative and can have a significant impact on the future success of a mentee. What if we could transfer that value to business?

Many people just starting out in their careers are young and impressionable, eager to soak up knowledge and learn how to climb to the top. This is a vulnerable time for young professionals, and having a mentor to look to for support and guidance can have a lasting change on their development and future success.

With youth mentoring, the goal is to provide mentees with a trusted adviser—a friend, in many ways—and someone they can look up to. Mentors tap into their many years of life and work experience and use it to help their charges find their way in the world.

Apply these values to business and you paint a very similar picture: a young person is matched with an experienced professional whose job it is to transfer their knowledge and experience to their charge.

Many of the lessons of youth mentoring are also transferrable to business mentoring. Throughout the course of the mentorship, mentees learn how to build valuable relationships, beginning with the relationship they forge with their mentor. They’re taught to respect other people’s time and resources, and to value the guidance and instruction of someone more experienced than they are. Mentees also learn how to connect with others and grow their network of contacts, a skill that builds character and self-confidence. These lessons are identical in business mentoring, where the primary goal is to teach young people how to thrive and excel in their careers.

What’s more, the rewards of youth mentoring are also realized by business mentors. Being a trusted resource and having a true impact on someone else’s life is extremely gratifying, and many business professionals take pride in doing the meaningful work of being a mentor.

Even the challenges of business mentoring are similar to those of youth mentoring. One of the most important goals of mentoring as a whole is to match mentees with the right mentors. This isn’t always an easy task with youth mentoring, and it can be difficult with business mentoring as well. The task is made easier with tools like MentorCloud, which matches mentors and mentees based on their backgrounds, goals, and expectations. Youth mentors also face challenges keeping their charges engaged, maintaining the momentum of the relationship, and keeping communication active and interesting­­—all hurdles business mentors must overcome.

Just like a new school or neighborhood, the new workplace can be a scary place. Mentoring goes a long way towards making it less scary and more enjoyable. We might be more used to the idea of youth mentoring than we are business mentoring, but with all the technology and resources we have at our fingertips, we are primed to transfer all the success of youth mentoring to the business place. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Short-cut to Mastery: Circumventing 10,000 Hours


In his book, Outliers, popular journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory of “10,000 hours.” The theory holds that it takes a person ten thousand hours of targeted practice in a field to achieve mastery. There are some who agree with Gladwell’s theory and some who have gone to great lengths to disprove it, but assuming that Gladwell is right, that it does take a great deal of time and study to master a field, how does one go about gathering the knowledge they need to become a master?

To begin with, what does 10,000 hours of dedication really look like? It depends. It can span the length of an entire career. If you start early, in adolescence, say, you have a better chance of achieving mastery by your twenties. But most people are already in their twenties when they decide to master something, and some (those career-changers, for example) are even older.

So let’s break it down to something manageable. If you’re someone who is just starting out in his/her career, or perhaps you’ve worked for a time and now you want to master a new field, chances are you’re spending the bulk of your day working for an income. You probably have other responsibilities and interests too, like grocery shopping, cleaning your house or apartment, and socializing from time to time.

Realistically you probably only have about five hours available to study each day. If you calculate that number in terms of days, that’s 2,000 days of study, or just under 5 & 1/2 years. You’ll probably take a day off here and there, or study less than five hours some days. It’s also possible that your day job could be considered study in your chosen field, so maybe you count some of those hours towards the 10,000. Either way, you’re looking at a great deal of time before you can consider yourself a master in your field.

Given all this, wouldn’t it be nice if you could hit the fast-forward button? What if you could gain some of that knowledge and wisdom from someone who’s been there before you? You’d effectively save yourself the time and effort it would take to research or learn important lessons all on your own.

This is exactly what mentoring offers: a way to accelerate the learning of knowledge and the gaining of wisdom required to become a master in your career. In a way, your mentor has already done the bulk of the work for you. They’ve spent innumerable hours building a career and learning the dos and don’ts of success. Their wisdom is first-hand, not gleaned from a book, and their experience is real and tangible. What’s more, you can ask them questions and present scenarios, thereby gaining knowledge that would otherwise be difficult to get from a book.

No matter how many hours you decide to spend becoming a master in your chosen career, it’s the quality of time that matters far more than the quantity. There's no arguing that practice plays a huge role in success, so you should study the ins and outs of your field and read up on best practices and case studies. But consider bolstering your studies by enlisting the aid and guidance of a mentor, a trusted professional who can transfer the hours they’ve invested in their own career directly to you. You’ll surpass the limits of theory and take your career progression in your own hands. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Offline vs. Online: How Do Traditional and E-Mentoring Compare?


As mentoring becomes more and more popular in the workplace, many organizations are struggling with whether to implement a face-to-face mentoring program or a digital one. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, and it’s important that you understand them before moving forward with a mentoring program.

Mentoring may be described as a strategic relationship based on trust. This is true regardless of whether the mentorship takes place in person or in an online format. Trust is key no matter what the setting, and it is possible to build strong relationships both on and offline. Keep this in mind as you weigh your options.

Let’s begin with face-to-face mentoring, since it’s the traditional format and is familiar to most people.

Offline/ Face-to-Face Mentoring - Benefits and Drawbacks

The benefits of traditional mentoring are fairly straight-forward. It gives mentors and mentees a face to put to the name. Meetings are live and in-person, allowing participants to converse organically and learn each other’s personalities and mannerisms. Many people are still more comfortable talking with a live person than they are typing on a computer, since it feels more personal and authentic. Gaining answers to important questions and working on tasks can be easier in person, since both participants are present and focused.

The primary drawback to traditional mentoring is that it is restricted to geographical proximity. Mentors and mentees must live and/or work near each other to make regular in-person meetings feasible. This inevitably means that concerns about location, availability, and convenience come into play.

In addition to limitations brought on by geographical necessity, communication between mentors and mentees can be limited with traditional mentoring. This is because younger or inexperienced businessmen and women often feel nervous or shy and end up holding back when they should be asking questions or offering information. Face-to-face interactions with a powerful and experienced professional can be intimidating to someone who is just starting out in their field.


Online / E-mentoring – Benefits and Drawbacks

E-mentoring eliminates the geographical barriers presented by traditional mentoring. Mentors can meet any time, anywhere. Meetings can be scheduled on the fly and conducted in numerous formats. If a mentee has a question, they can simply ping their mentor and check back later for the answer. Advances in technology, such as mentor/mentee matching, video conferencing, and mobile technology have made it possible to start and carry out an effective mentorship entirely online, without mentors and mentees have ever met in person.

E-mentoring allows participants to easily share networks and resources, as well as effectively track the mentorship as it progresses. All history of communication is in one place and accessible to both mentor and mentee at any time. In this sense, e-mentoring allows a mentorship to be even more “live” than traditional mentoring.

The drawbacks of e-mentoring are few, but they must be considered when implementing a new mentoring program. By its very nature, e-mentoring requires both mentors and mentees to have easy access to technology, such as a computer or lap top, a reliable Internet connection, and a means of communication, like a mentoring platform, email service, or video conferencing program. Access to these components is growing around the world, but their necessity can still present a challenge to some people.

Interacting in a digital format can sometimes present challenges to engagement. E-mentoring requires a certain level of self-direction that can be difficult for employees who are used to receiving instruction and having their work planned out for them. E-mentoring—and traditional mentoring, too—requires active participation from both mentor and mentee, and ensuring there a high level of engagement should always be a primary goal with any mentoring relationship.

If you're considering implementing a new mentorship program into the workplace, consider both the benefits and the drawbacks of the different formats. Talk to your managers and employees about what they hope to achieve from the program and how it can best be designed to meet their needs. It may be that you choose to take elements from traditional and e-mentoring and combine them to devise a unique mentoring program garnered for the success of your team. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.





Sowing the Seeds of Confidence in Mentees

Employees just starting out in business don’t always know where their strong points are. Many young professionals fall into roles that don’t challenge them. Their work becomes monotonous, leading to boredom and disengagement after a period of time. Some employees feel out of place or aimless, and even though they might be passing up an opportunity to earn valuable experience and a good paycheck, they nevertheless decide to move on.

Here is the question that arises: What if these things affect several employees? What if they affect the whole workforce? The company operates with a team of less-than-motivated employees, unable to foster the strong and effective relationships of a dynamic workforce because no one sticks around long enough to lay the groundwork.

In the meantime, promising individuals move on without having realized their true potential or value to the organization. Pairing incoming employees, especially those who seem lost or dejected in their day-to-day activities, can make all the difference in tackling this problem at its core.

Mentors understand the difficult task of finding your “place” in the business world. Chances are it took them a good amount of time, along with the directed guidance of a mentor of their own, to find the niche they were able to thrive in. This is exactly the experience and knowledge a mentor can transfer to a mentee. Their service extends beyond simple career advice to helping mentees grow as individuals with the confidence and direction they need to find a role they can excel in. Mentors bolster early career development in numerous ways, but let's go over a few of the most important ones:


Opening lines of communication

A mentor serves as a source of support to his/her mentees and can be a confidant for all career-related matters. This opens up lines of communication where mentees can express their thoughts and doubts—whether it be about their career goals or the role they are currently in—without fear. Over a period of time, mentees lose their inhibitions and learn to communicate freely with their mentors and colleagues.

Extending professional connections

Individuals just starting out in their careers don’t have many business connections to draw from. This can make them feel alone and unsure of what connections to make or where to start building relationships. On the other hand, an experienced mentor has a vast network of professional peers and trusted colleagues to work with. When mentors and mentees build good relationships, mentees have a unique opportunity to expand their networks by tapping into a resource that has been developed over many years.

Boosting morale

Greener employees are often reserved by nature, since they’re still learning to build confidence in their work and abilities. Employees working in new environments or roles they are unsure of can be especially prone to withdrawing from the team and convincing themselves they’re not good enough. Mentors have worked in many roles and most likely in various organizations throughout their careers, and they undoubtedly experienced bouts of low morale along the way. Mentors remind mentees that they have value, they’re not alone, their feelings are normal and common, and that they can learn to be confident and proactive in their careers.

Offering advice on workplace know-how

When new employees first join a workplace, they tend to lay low and exist on the sidelines. Most new hires are reluctant to ask for help. The result is that they build a reputation for having reservations and low self-confidence. They inevitably miss out on opportunities to advance within the organization, to build their skills, and to try out new roles that might suit them better. A mentor has the power to remedy this problem before it even begins. By encouraging their mentees to speak up, ask questions, and take risks, mentors teach mentees to mold their own reputations. Their extensive years working in business also means they can smooth the road by helping mentees understand organizational rules, culture, and protocols.   

New employees need a healthy dose of positive reinforcement to build a sense of well being in the workplace. A strong mentor/mentee relationship will give it to them. Mentees will gain a better understanding of their own potential as well as what role they best fit into within their chosen organization. They’ll learn to know their own value and how that translates to having the confidence to create direction in their careers. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Mentor Matching: Choosing Mentors That Are Right for You

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Ursula Burns, Chairwoman and CEO at Xerox, names ”great leadership” as one of the essential characteristics of a company’s success. She should know: Burns has been working for the document giant since 1980 and running it since 2009. She knows a thing or two about great leadership and what it takes to achieve it. In fact, Burns was recently featured in an article by Fast Company in which she makes the case that mentors—and not just any mentors, but the right mentors—make leaders.

Burns’s story of humble beginnings and triumphant success demonstrates how anyone, given hard work and the right guidance, can realize their leadership goals. She’s at the top now, sure, but she wasn’t always there, and she credits her mentors for putting her on track to becoming the woman she is today. Burns advises aspiring leaders to start early and be proactive in finding guidance from those who are most suited to launch a specific career.

Part of Burns’s philosophy is the importance of building relationships through trust and open communication. If someone wants to find the right mentor, they must be clear and honest about their goals, what they hope to gain, and what they bring to the relationship. A mentee is not going to succeed with just anyone, which is why the process of matching mentor and mentee based on their skills, areas of expertise, experience, career goals, and expectations is so important.

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Like Burns, we at MentorCloud believe that pairing mentees with the right mentors is fundamental to both effective mentorships and career success. The advantage that today’s rising leaders have over Burns is that they no longer have to seek out suitable mentors all on their own.

Mentees can now harness technology to access global networks like MentorCloud and tap into pools of expertise that were heretofore inaccessible. An organization cut off by a strict hierarchy of executives, managers, supervisors, and direct reports is suddenly transformed into an open system of communication and knowledge sharing. Likewise, entire divisions of employees are brought together in ways that were once rendered impossible by geographical boundaries.

Burns learned the value of selecting the right mentors early on, and once she had the right support, she never looked back. Her success is a testament to the power of mentorship where it is most suited. Business professionals who see themselves as future leaders should take note and align themselves with the right mentors. You never know. You just might find yourself matched with a powerful leader like Ursula Burns.  

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Balance With Direction: Career Progression Through Mentoring


The workplace is changing. Employees are no longer confined to primary roles without opportunities for growth. Today’s employees are encouraged to augment their skills with cross training and to delve into other areas and responsibilities. Organizations are getting creative with job titles and responsibilities as they look to create a workforce that is versatile and capable of performing multiple tasks and wearing different hats.

In the midst of all of this, employees are spending less and less time with a single organization. They’re making the decision to leave for greener pastures, either because they’re not being valued for their potential or because they haven’t figured out how to take advantage of the resources available to them. We need to take a moment and think about how we can create an work environment that is both supportive and challenging, and that will serve to keep employees satisfied and engaged throughout the course of their careers.

One of the best ways to bring balance in the workplace is through mentoring. The importance of mentoring has become apparent in all areas of an organization. The presence of a true mentor will ensure that your employees receive support, encouragement, and guidance. A mentorship serves as a safety net around them, encouraging them to take risks and realize their potential without fear of alienation. Employees grow to trust and confide in their mentors in ways that are not possible with managers or supervisors. This provides a great opportunity to voice grievances and concerns, factors that could ultimately lead to an employee’s decision to leave a company.

A good mentor can transform an employee’s mindset from one of unsatisfied detachment to energetic optimism. At the same time that it creates the environment employees are looking for and motivates them to stay, a successful mentoring program directly contributes to reduced organizational costs through lower attrition rates and hiring costs. Employees are more likely to stick around and use the resources available to them to work harder and scale up the organizational ladder. 

To sum it up, a mentor’s presence can do the following:

  • Help an employee in areas of personal and professional growth
  • Be a source for ideas, inspiration and experience
  • Cater to an employee’s needs in terms of knowledge transfer and career advice
  • Offer support and empathize in times of confusion
  • Help mentees expand their professional network by connecting them with other industry professionals
  • Encourage them to take up new projects apart from their delegated project
  • Give employees tips on how to become an effective team player/leader
  • Lend constructive feedback to improve mentees’ work

All these factors combined together will create a work environment that fosters learning and career progression. Mentors are not just advisors; they are role models with the power to boost morale, infuse confidence, and bolster engagement in their mentees. Motivated employees are much more likely see the value in the resources available to them, to learn new skills and take on new roles, and to take pride in their position within the company.

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Mentoring Toolset: Exercising Resources That Count


As with any job, mentoring is made more powerful if you have the right tools—tools of the trade, if you will. They might look a little different than other tools commonly used in work—you won’t find any hammers or electric drills here—but they are equally as important. Just like a teacher needs resources like a classroom, projector, textbooks, worksheets and assignments, a mentor needs the resources that will allow them to communicate with a mentee, track their progress, and build their skills.

Depending on whom you talk to, you could come up with a laundry list of appropriate tools for mentoring, so I’m only going to list some of the fundamental ones here. Without the right equipment, you’ll have a hard time effectively planning a mentorship or managing its progress.

Program Outline and Worksheet

Think of this as a partnership agreement. The program outline and worksheet allows you to lay out the terms of the mentorship, including your expectations of the mentee. The worksheet should include prompts that will assist the mentee is outlining their own expectations of the mentorship. The purpose of the worksheet is not just to provide the mentee with an idea of what the mentorship will entail, but also to get them thinking about what they really want out of the program.

Mentorship Timeline

Mentorships vary in length, but no matter how long or how short a mentorship lasts, it should always follow a clearly defined roadmap from beginning to end. Creating a timeline of activities will allow both you and your mentee to plan ahead, stay on track, and see the progress of the relationship. A typical mentorship timeline might include the following events:

  • Mentor/Mentee matching
  • Kick-off meeting for introductions
  • Program outline and worksheet to set goals and expectations
  • Set schedule for ongoing communication via online platform, email, phone, and face-to-face meetings
  • Complete mid-mentorship evaluations and review
  • Complete end-of-mentorship evaluations and program review

You’ll decide the timeframe your timeline will cover as well as the chronological order of events and corresponding dates. Keeping a clear timeline of events will give the mentorship momentum and set both you and your mentee on track for success.

Mentorship Management Platform

As with any mentorship, communication is key. Regular and easy communication between a mentor and mentee will build trust, accountability, and confidence. Having effective means of communication can sometimes be challenging, especially in the busy world we live in. A mentorship management platform like the one offered by MentorCloud allows you to leverage a powerful tool for mentorship management. Not only will you have an effective means of communication that is not restricted by schedules or location, but you’ll also have a central homebase for all of your mentorship needs. In addition to mentor/mentee interaction, a mentorship management platform allows you to share valuable information, track the progress of your mentorships, assign tasks to mentees, access resources like shared documents and videos, and collaborate with other mentors and mentees in the network. With this tool, you’ll be able to take your mentorships to the next level.

Video Conferencing

In terms of communication, face-to-face meetings are not always the viable option. What often happens with mentorships limited to in-person interactions is that time goes by and the meetings don’t take place, a practice that considerably reduces the effectiveness of a mentorship. Video conferencing can act as a supplement or even substitute to in-person meetings. With all the video conferencing technology at our fingertips today—and most of it free—it would be foolish not to take advantage of this valuable tool for mentoring. 

Evaluation Worksheets

Feedback is one of the major components of a successful mentorship, and that goes for both mentor and mentee. After you’ve set expectations and goals, followed a timeline of activities and events, and spent time interacting, completing tasks, and building skills, it’s time to evaluate each other and the program overall. Evaluations should be done in the middle of the mentorship and at the end, but it’s also reasonable to include a couple more at regular intervals just to gauge progress.

Learning Notebook

Throughout the course of a mentorship, a lot of ideas, suggestions, and advice will be shared. It’s hard to keep track of all that information, especially if you’re working fulltime and have other responsibilities. A learning notebook can be an effective means of recording all that valuable data, ensuring you’ll have an easy method of referencing it later and applying it to future mentorships or growing careers. Notebooks can be in digital or paper form, depending on preference. If used effectively, it’ll be a virtual treasure trove of priceless resources.

Building a mentorship with direction and momentum is a challenging endeavor, but having the right tools on hand will bring you that much closer to success. You'll put yourself on track to transforming your mentorship from mediocre into memorable.

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



The Accountability Factor: Teaching Mentees to Take Ownership

A good mentor knows that their role encompasses many lessons, but one of the most important is accountability. I’m not just talking about taking responsibility for your actions or being proactive, although these are both important skills to learn from a mentor. When I talk about accountability, I’m referring to the extra layer of motivation a mentor—someone who is counting on you to produce results—can spark in a mentee. Many young professionals start out in business with aspirations to work hard and achieve their goals, and some of them might even take steps towards realizing them. But nothing encourages a junior employee to put their best effort forward like the trust and confidence of a seasoned colleague.

Most of the skills learned in the first few years of a business career are designed to make employees effective team players with a strong understanding of the organization’s goals and procedures. Individuals are not necessarily encouraged to stand out among their peers or seek rapid advancement, and for most, this suits them fine. But an employee seeking mentorship is different; they want to learn, to excel, and to gain the skills they need to become leaders in their fields. Rather than blending in, they seek out challenge and responsibility, and the extra accountability gained through mentorship is exactly what they need to tap into their true potential.

We’ve talked about the many challenges of being a mentor and how it can be quite difficult to motivate mentees to stick to set goals and follow the mentorship plan. But if we know that mentees inherently want to excel in their careers, and may simply lack the guidance and motivation to do so, how can a mentor leverage the power of accountability to help them succeed? There are several ways, and most of them coincide with the essential elements in a successful mentorship.  

  • Set your expectations and stick to them: Before you can create accountability, you need to set clearly defined expectations for the mentorship. The mentee needs to know they should take the program, its goals, and the expected results seriously. Because they are still new in business, it’s important to create direction from the onset.
  • Have them list and explain specific goals: Ideally, the goals for the mentorship should be set by the mentee. It’s their career, after all, and encouraging them to set their own goals will create ownership and teach them to discern what is achievable from what is unrealistic. What’s more, by setting their own goals, they’ll create accountability for themselves in pursuing them.
  • Ask for regular updates on progress towards their goals: At this point, the mentee should know they are expected to make real progress toward their set goals. As you give them advice and help them take discernible steps in the right direction, request that the mentee report back on their accomplishments. In order to be effective, check-ins should be specific rather than general.
  • Believe in them: One of the strongest generators of motivation is knowing that someone is counting on you. An employee who’s begun to acknowledge the importance and benefits of a mentor will strive to work harder and will make efforts to deliver better results.

In conjunction with these four points, mentors should create accountability by always maintaining and demanding transparency in communication. Honesty is essential to the success of any mentorship program, and without trust, mentees will never be motivated to take responsibility for achieving their own goals and putting themselves to the task of making their mentor proud. 

As with most lessons in mentorship, teaching accountability to a mentee can be challenging. A mentee must truly believe in the goals they set for themselves and their ability to achieve them. But if they are lacking in confidence in the beginning, a mentor's faith in a mentee and trust in their abilities can give a them the motivation they need to get the work done. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation. 



Take Initiative: Finding a Mentor on Your Own

Formal mentoring programs are on the rise in both established organizations and startups. Even so, not all organizations have caught up with the trend, and it can still be difficult for many employees to identify and approach a senior colleague or business associate for mentorship.

If a mentor isn’t chosen for you, how do you go about identifying one who is a good fit? And if you are able to pick someone you’d like to work with, how do you go about asking him or her to be your mentor?

These are important questions to ask, even for organizations with established mentoring programs or digital mentoring opportunities. Employees should understand the qualities of a good mentor, how a mentor’s experience and skills are matched with their career goals, and how to conduct themselves when first requesting mentorship.

First things first: How do you identify the right mentor?

As with any search for talented resources, the first place to look is within your own organization. Think about the people you work with: Is there someone whose work you admire? Have you noticed anyone who is particularly fond of giving advice and sharing lessons they’ve learned? Is there a colleague whose role within the company resembles a position you’d eventually like to hold?

Answering these questions in respect to the colleagues and associates you are already familiar with can give you a good idea of who may be a good fit. In the process, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you want out of a mentorship, what personalities you work best with, and what your aspirations are. By the time you are ready to approach a colleague for mentorship, you’ll have a strong case to present for why you want them as your mentor.

Now for the real deal: How do you ask someone to be your mentor?

In a company with an established mentorship program in place, this part should be easy.  It’s either done for you through systematic mentor/mentee matching, or there are established vehicles for requesting mentorship from colleagues who have already elected to be mentors.

But what if none of that exists in your organization? The process can be a bit trickier. But that doesn’t mean it can’t (or shouldn’t) be done.

If a mentor candidate is someone you already work closely with, ask him or her to meet with you or schedule a lunch. Make sure you’ve prepared a good case when you propose working together as a mentor/mentee and be able to give them a clear idea of what your goals are for the mentorship. It’s possible—likely, even—that they’ve never mentored anyone before and may need a little help from you in understanding what you expect from them.

If you’ve identified someone who works within the company but not directly with you, then you can approach your manager and tell them you are interested in working with this person as a mentor. Ask your manager if they’ll organize a joint meeting with your candidate to introduce the idea of a mentorship and discuss particulars.

This approach gives your potential mentor an opportunity to ask questions of both you and your manager about your skill-set, goals for advancement, and availability for participating in a formal mentorship. It also brings your manger into the loop, showing them not only that you wish to enhance your skills and advance your career, but that you recognize and want to benefit from the talent existing within the company.

Mentoring has had overwhelming success within organizations, resulting in greater job satisfaction, higher compensation, stronger career commitment, a higher rate of promotion, and more overall career success. Don’t let the absence of a formal mentorship program stop you from engaging in what could be one of the most beneficial relationships of your professional and personal life.  

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.