Finding the right mentor for career success
In a 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, it was reported that 68% of employees in large organizations intended to stay for five years or more if they had a mentor. Providing employees a vision of growth within the organization is the most effective way of retaining talent and engaging the millennial generation. The Hartford’s Millennial leadership survey found that the most promising demonstration an employer can give to show their interest in employee development is to train and mentor their workforce. Mentoring has evolved over the years in large organizations to become an essential part of onboarding and employee development process.
Employees guided by a mentor are 5 times more likely to be promoted and hence the choice of a mentor is important to the career success of an employee. Choosing the right mentor is a critical decision. While finding a mentor, employees must exercise due diligence and analyze what their potential mentor will bring in that contributes to their growth.
Do’s of finding the right mentor
- Know your mentoring needs
Mentoring relationships come in many variations. It’s important for the employee to be aware of what their expectations are from the mentor. The right mentor should not hand hold or micromanage the employee, but rather guide them in taking charge and leading their work efficiently.
- Research about mentor’s past experiences
It’s always beneficial to have mentors from varying business backgrounds. Running a Google search about the mentor’s profile is a good start. A mentor may not necessarily be from a specified field but should have extensive experience in the industry with a willingness to help and find mentoring a mutually beneficial experience. Employees must ask for suggestions from their colleagues or managers to connect with mentors who have relevant experience.
- Have a well-defined goal
A mentor cannot tell you what your goals must be, but they can guide you to perform your best to achieve your goals most efficiently. To seek guidance from a mentor, you must first be aware of your mentor’s goals. Mentors may not have much time at their disposal and hence, before approaching them, you must have clarity in what they seek from the relationship.
- Regular feedback and reports
Meetings with mentors must be a regular affair. A monthly meeting in person, over a phone call, or video chat is essential to keep an individual focused on their goal. The meetings must be scheduled and agenda must be communicated to ensure both the mentor and the mentee are well prepared. The meetings must be focused and to the point without any distractions and it’s important for the mentee to make most of this time to ask relevant questions to focus on growth.
Don’ts of finding the right mentor
- Don’t take advice lightly
It’s a mentee’s responsibility to take in advice and evaluate the guidance given by the mentor. The words of wisdom from mentors usually come from years of experience in an industry. Mentees must use this experience as a unique learning opportunity and decide how to apply it to their work. It’s not necessary to follow all advice that the mentor gives, however, their experience is nevertheless of great value.
- Don’t go unprepared to meet your mentor
A mentors’ time in invaluable and usually squeezed in from very tight schedules. It gives a very poor impression to turn up at a meeting unprepared. The mentee must plan the agenda for the meeting and make notes and write down questions.
- Don’t wait to meet in person
Technology has changed the way we interact with people around us. It is no longer impossible to connect with a mentor at a different geographical location. Regular check-in over a phone call or video conference can be an alternative to meeting in person under circumstances when geography or time is a constraint.
- Don’t underestimate the benefits of connection
Mentors can open doors to a wide network of connections within the organization and globally. With their extensive experience in the industry, mentors can help us get connected to other strategic people who would otherwise be difficult to reach.
In this fast-paced, technology-driven professional world, employees are faced with the constant challenge of critical decision making from time to time. A good mentor can not only help an employee find answers that pave way for professional success but can also be a source of keeping you focused towards short-term and long-term goals. While a right mentor can accelerate your journey to success, a wrong mentor can set back or stagnate your career. Mentees must be strategic in choosing their mentor by carefully analyzing their expectations from the relationship they are trying to build. Choosing a right mentor is one of the most important career decision one makes in their career.