Mentors and Their Importance in Career Development
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What makes someone a mentor and why are mentors important in your career development? Let’s take a look.
A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor that helps with a person’s development over a long period of time. It can be someone from inside or outside your company that is in your industry or has had similar experiences or goals. Meetings tend to be informal and take place on an as-needed basis by the mentee. Discussions and guidance are generally driven by the mentee’s goals.
There are many benefits of a successful mentoring relationship for a mentee. Mentees have a trusted advisor to help guide them as they progress in their career. This includes opportunities to increase their industry knowledge, build confidence and communication skills, try different approaches, see other points of view, build their network, and receive constructive feedback and advice.
But the mentee is not the only person that benefits from a mentoring relationship. Studies have shown that mentors have greater job satisfaction and performance. Mentoring within the same organization is also associated with mentors having a stronger feeling of commitment to their organization and less turnover. Additionally, mentors feel they also have greater career success.
To find and ask someone to become your mentor:
1. First, decide on who you want to ask. Consider asking someone who is already in your organization that is not your direct manager that you know and trust. It may be someone that you already seek out for advice informally. If there is no one at your current organization you feel comfortable asking, think about people you have worked with in the past, such as former managers, commanders, experienced acquaintances, etc.
2. Write your potential mentor an email requesting an initial conversation. This might be over the phone or over coffee or lunch. Make sure you allow plenty of time to go over what you are asking. If you don’t already have an established relationship with the potential mentor, consider several meetings to get to know each other before setting up a meeting for your mentoring request.
3. Plan out what you want to say ahead of the meeting. What advice or guidance are you seeking and for what purpose?
4. At the meeting, clearly describe what you are asking. Confirm your willingness to do the necessary work and follow through and make sure you do it.
5. Acknowledge and respect the potential mentor’s time. Make it clear how you appreciate they consider your request.
6. Accept your potential mentor’s answer with professionalism – if they are willing to be your mentor, great! If not, thank them for their time and move on to asking someone else, but maintain your relationship with them. You never know where you both will be a few years down the road.
Finding and asking someone to become your mentor is straightforward and extremely beneficial for both parties. In the next part of our mentoring series, we’ll take a look at how to build a great relationship with your mentor for years to come.