Autumn is a busy old season. You’ll need all your resources to perform at the highest level over the coming months. Are you ready for everything the job throws at you or would a bit of help come in handy? Help comes in many forms: time with the boss, formal learning, coaching and nothing beats the experience you get by just doing the job, but you may feel you need something else. A helping hand from someone who’s been there.
A mentor is someone more experienced, often more senior, who has relevant wisdom to share and willingness to be generous with it. They may be in the same organisation as you and often they are not. Mentoring allows you to follow in the path of a wiser colleague who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities.
Some of our most rewarding work comes from being asked to mentor people. Our brand of wisdom is people intelligence and that is what we have to pass on. We help people to navigate their way through managing the maze of relationships, alliances, colleagues and challenges that are critical to their success at work.
When sourcing a mentor, it is important to know what you’re looking for. Here is a checklist of some of things you should expect from a mentor. They should be
- Someone who listens
- Someone who challenges you and makes you think
- Someone who helps you explore opportunities
- Someone who will have good ideas about how to deal with difficult situations
- Willing to share their experience and knowledge
- Able to help you to stay on track and reach your goals
- Able to stay independent and not get too personally involved.
And dare we say – someone who is prepared to give you a bit of tough love when you need to take action and stop procrastinating.
What could a mentor do for you? Good mentors should provide a combination of support and challenge to help you improve on areas where you struggle and develop your strengths to the max. And unlike coaches, mentors are allowed to give advice. Hooray. They do it from a position of knowledge and experience and they offer it understanding that it may or may not be accepted.
We find and our clients tell us that they achieve much more in a few short mentoring sessions than they ever could going through generic training. Mentoring is powerful, because it is targeted, it gets to the root of the problem and this means solutions follow swiftly. Mentors are usually sought out – people know who they want and can be of most value to them, so trust is established quickly. You can have a mentoring session in-person or remotely so it fits with today’s world.
And the great thing is, however old and wise you are, there is always someone older and wiser for you to seek out. Chances are someone is planning to seek you out for exactly the same reason. Keep your ears open.