How to Find a Great Mentor
You probably will be looking for a mentor when you start your new job, you won’t know many people at the company. Try these techniques for identifying possible mentors.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone you identify as successful and with whom you create a teacher-student relationship. Choose your mentor based on what is important to you and on how you define success. Someone can be successful with-out having attained certain titles or positions, so keep an open mind when you’re looking for a mentor. A mentor is someone you can learn from. Enter into the relationship intending to observe your mentor carefully and ask many questions.
Two types of mentoring skills.
There are two primary types of mentors: business mentors and technical mentors. You will learn different things from each type of mentor. A business mentor will provide guidance about how to be successful in the business culture. Although each mentoring situation is different, you often can learn the following from a business mentor:
1. Customer service skills
2. Presentation skills
3. How to design a career plan
4. How to set incremental goals
5. What to expect in your business culture
6. How to communicate with your boss
7. How to gain sponsorship for your ideas
A technical mentor, on the other hand, is someone who has more technical knowledge than you do and can teach you those skills, direct your path for ongoing learning, and help you develop technical problem-solving skills. You often can learn the following from a technical mentor:
1. Problem-solving skills
2. In-depth knowledge about technology used by your company
3. Tricks and shortcuts for repair and maintenance
4. Trends in technology
5. Which magazines are best
6. Which conferences/seminars/classes you should attend
Techniques for identifying possible mentors
Don’t just wait for your fairy godmother to appear and provide you with a mentor; actively search for one! A mentor can be anyone from a senior-level manager to one of your peers. Remember, finding a good mentor is not a matter of title, years in the business, or years with your company. A good mentor is someone who is expert in a certain area and willing and able to teach you.
There are many ways to find a mentor. Since you probably will be looking for a mentor when you start your new job, you won’t know many people at the company. Try these techniques for identifying possible mentors:
1. Ask your boss to recommend someone. Let your supervisor know that you are trying to improve yourself through a mentor. This actually helps you in two ways. First, it helps you find an appropriate mentor based on your boss’s experience at the company and in the industry. Second, it lets your boss know that you are serious about your career and your personal development.
2. Observe people. You can learn a lot this way. When asked a question, do they take the time to help you find an answer or do they point you toward someone else who can help you? The one who takes the time to help you answer your question is the better choice for a mentor. How does the potential mentor resolve problems? In a calm manner? If so, you’ve found a good candidate.
3. Listen to people who admire your potential mentor. What qualities do they admire? Do the admirable qualities coincide with your values and goals? If you need to learn conflict-resolution skills, you probably shouldn’t consider a mentor who is admired for having a forceful, aggressive style. Instead, look for someone people describe as fair, calm, and easy to work with.