If you don’t have a mentor and you’re serious about professional and/or personal development, you’re missing out. People at all stages of their career could benefit from mentorship, whether they’re entry-level employees or seasoned executives.
Many people have goals, aspirations and a desire to improve themselves and realize their potential and having a strong mentor or network of mentors can be the key to achieving those ambitions.
How Do You Find A Mentor?
This is a question I’ve heard quite often, mostly from people in the entry-level/early stage of their career and the pattern I’ve noticed amongst them is remarkably similar.
They know they should have a mentor, yet they don’t know where to go find one. They identify one, but don’t know how to make an approach. They make an approach, but don’t quite know what they want to get out if the relationship.
Then, if they’re politely rebuffed by their first choice, they second guess themselves. This type of analysis paralysis leads to a tailspin in their quest to find a worthy mentor. So, they still don’t have one.
Stop Looking For A Unicorn
Don’t hit up the CEO of the company to become your mentor. It probably won’t happen. Many early stage professionals identify the head honcho as an ideal person to become their mentor.
Why? Well, look at them! They’re super successful, seem to know everything there is to know – who better to mentor an up-and-comer?
On the surface this sounds all good and well. However, the CEO is the er..CEO. So, they’re super busy and that goes for everyone else in the executive team. In addition, many other young ambitious up-and-comers have already made similar approaches and have been similarly rebuffed.
What about someone at another company, someone super successful?
The truth is, if they don’t know you, they will probably rebuff your approach.
They’re Right In Front Of You
The best person to be your mentor is someone who sees you every day. Someone who knows you, who has a good understanding of your skills, output, and ambitions, and someone who can use this essential information to offer you opportunities to improve.
So, someone who sees you every day. That narrows it down a bit doesn’t it?
Look around you, find mentors in those people. It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship. You don’t have to ask anyone “Will you be my mentor?”.
Sometimes, the most constructive mentor/mentee relationships happen organically. Find someone you respect, work with them, learn from them, ask questions, volunteer to work on projects, share a workload, ask for advice. Watch and learn. It can be as easy as that.
If you do want to strike up some sort of formal mentor/mentee relationship with someone you work with on a daily basis, then go ahead and make that known to them.
You need to be clear on what you would like to achieve, what you need from them, and have a realistic plan and timeframe for helping get you there. If you have this in place, it’s a great starting point for the discussion.
If you’re seen as someone with real potential who is open-minded, flexible, willing to learn, and dedicated, you will have more chance of someone taking a real interest in your progression.
The More The Merrier
Keep in mind, you don’t have to limit your exposure to one person. The entire environment and everyone in it provides you with opportunities to learn and develop. There may not be one single person who can guide you in everything.
If your idea of mentorship is a one-to-one relationship, consider changing your perception to include multiple people with varying experiences and insights that could be shared with you.
Tommy Emmanuel is considered by many to be the greatest living guitar player of our age. He is undoubtedly a phenomenal talent, and a seriously advanced player, yet he has noted in the past that he can learn something from everyone…even people who have just started playing.
That’s an incredible mindset, and perhaps is indicative of his success. You can find something in anyone that you can absorb and adapt to improve yourself and advance your skill set and career.
We’ve talked about learning from people you work with and people you respect, what about people at work you don’t respect?
You know who they are! Seriously though, perhaps you look at a manager in your company and realize that they’re not the type of person you want to be. Ask yourself, “what do they do, that makes them ineffective or unlikeable” and take steps to make sure you don’t develop those traits or behave in that manner.
Making Yourself A Contender – A Final Word
What else can you do to position yourself as someone who deserves to be mentored?
#1 – Be a top performer. Top performers are noticed, they’re usually serious about their careers, and forward-thinking companies know that if they want to retain them, they need to help develop, engage, and inspire their best people.
#2 – Ask for more. By showing your readiness to absorb additional duties or responsibilities to advance the departmental/corporate interest, you’ll be viewed internally as someone who can be relied upon. The additional respect and attention this generates can only bode well for your quest to be noticed, mentored, and developed.
#3 – Don’t be shy. Get in among it. If there are extra sessions to be done, late nights, meetings, offsite get-togethers, get yourself involved. Remember, this is an opportunity to highlight your commitment, intelligence, and willingness to contribute. Plan for these sessions accordingly.
#4 – Don’t be selfish. Make sure you respect and work well with others. Champion their accomplishments, recognize their success. Being willing to appreciate another’s talents is strong quality and will be needed as you advance your career.
-#5 – Reach out to others. Build a reputation within the company as someone who is interested in learning the function and challenges of other business areas, identifying opportunities to help them be successful. This builds your personal brand within your company, you’ll have many people talk highly of you if you do this well.
Ken Docherty is an Certified Master Resume Writer, Certified Executive Resume Master, and Certified Professional Resume Writer providing best-in-class resume writing and interview coaching services to client from all industries in the Calgary area and beyond.
If you are considering having your resume professionally written, get in touch to discuss your requirements.