Many people have had a mentor at one point throughout the course of their careers. The value of some high-profile mentor-mentee relationships is well documented — Warren Buffett to Bill Gates, Maya Angelou to Oprah Winfrey, and Larry Summers to Sheryl Sandberg. But studies show that having a positive mentoring experience can lead to greater career success even if you aren’t a celebrity or business mogul.
Are you a candidate for mentorship?
Mentoring is helpful to men and women of all ages, but especially for:
- Those who are just starting out in their careers
- Millennials, who as a group seek a sense of purpose in their work, according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR)
- Someone who is trying to advance to the next level in their career or considering a career change
- Women, especially those working in male-dominated industries
If you are looking for someone to provide constructive feedback and guidance as you navigate your career, then it may be time to consider finding a mentor.
What are the benefits of having a mentor?
Having the guidance and trusted support of an experienced mentor can provide personal and professional benefits that translate to better work performance.
For young people who are eager to succeed at their organizations, a mentor can offer valuable guidance and help them feel confident about their performance. While HBR reports that young people may leave after just 28 months on the job, mentoring can help people feel more engaged in the work they do and improve retention.
Mentoring also provides the opportunity for mentees to learn how to take feedback and apply it successfully. Additionally, a 2016 analysis by CFO of the Americas division of Siemens Building Technologies Anton James Duvall found that participating in a mentorship program “enhances the likelihood that a mentee will receive promotional salary increases due to a higher level of visibility of improved performance and contribution to company value.” This could be especially valuable for women, who statistically make less than men.
How do I find a mentor?
The first step is to consider if you’d rather work with someone at your company or with someone outside of your company. By choosing someone at your organization, your mentor might be able to speak more directly to specific dynamics, concerns and opportunities. On the other hand, by picking someone who works elsewhere, you might find that there’s more room to speak freely about obstacles you face.
Find out if your company offers a mentorship program that aligns with your goals and expectations. If a mentorship program doesn’t exist, consider speaking with your supervisor or trusted coworkers about your desire to work with a mentor. Industry events are also a great place to look for mentors. Even social networking sites like LinkedIn provide opportunities to look for inspiring professionals in and outside of your industry. If you read an online piece that inspires you, it might be worth emailing the author to see if he or she would be willing to discuss a potential mentoring opportunity.
Read on for more tips on how to find a good mentor.
What are the signs of a good mentor?
In addition to having experience relevant to your career, a good mentor should be honest, encouraging and a good listener. Another characteristic of a good mentorship is accountability and having someone who challenges you. Pick someone who doesn’t agree with everything you say and can provide constructive feedback.
Finally, a good mentor comes prepared to every meeting and has the time to stay committed to your relationship.
When is a mentorship not right for you?
A mentorship may not be what you are looking for if you simply want help getting a raise or developing a specific skill. A mentorship should be a relationship you build over time where you as the mentee learn from your mentor’s experiences when setting goals for your career and solving problems. A mentor should encourage your development but their role is not to tell you exactly what to do.
While having a mentor is a great idea for a lot of people, you might not need to take on a mentor if you already have a strong role model and network of resources. This is especially true if you don’t have the time to commit to a mentorship.
That said, if you come across someone who inspires you, make sure to note their name and follow their work. You can still draw from their experiences and insights. Plus, you never know when you may be ready for a mentor in the future.
What makes a great mentor? Here’s what you should know.