Finding Your Ideal Work Mentor

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A few years ago I took some leadership training and during the training it was suggested we get mentors. I asked someone who was in a higher position than I was and who I respected a lot. She told me she had too much on her plate. Luckily, I found someone else, who recommended a few books to me and we were able to meet a few times. In the end, I didn’t keep up with it and it fell off.

Lately I feel like I need guidance and inspiration. I do read books on my own about leadership, but I am not clear on where I want to go at this point and have been feeling a little uninspired. I need some help guiding my career, so I decided to do some research on how to find a mentor again.

I have been in meetings with people at work and think, “Hey, they may be a good person to talk with and good fit for mentoring me.” Then I don’t follow-up on it because I do not want to bother them or ask that favor. I know it’s a time commitment on their part and I would be the one benefiting from it the most, so I’m intimidated to ask.

My goal with having a mentor is to have them coach me on skills that I know I am lacking in, as well a possibly identify things within myself that I may not see need improvement. I want to be challenged and pushed to take risks. Sometimes we become complacent in our jobs and roles within a company that we need a mentor to get us moving along the right career path again. I could also take advantage of networking with his/her peers and networking groups. I really want someone who will focus on my total development, help me come up with a plan, help me with that plan, and hold me accountable for completing the tasks.

What I am looking for in a mentor is someone who has time to meet with me on a regular basis, open and honest, is a caring person, has similar goals as I do or has been where I want to head, a positive person, and believes in me. I really want my mentor to see my potential and not feel like we are wasting each other’s time.

According to Forbes.com, here are four great tips for finding a mentor:

1. Clarify what you want. Determine what your expectations, goals, and objectives are to ensure you find the right mentor and that the relationship benefits your professional goals.

2. Think outside your cubicle and don’t restrict yourself. Mentors can be found at business and women’s associations in your area, non-profit organizations, business chambers of commerce, and even within your family.

3. Set up a meeting. Make certain you’re both clear on the terms.

4. Be clear with your mentor. Be clear on the time required and the availability of your mentor, and establish a regular meeting schedule with topics for discussion and to check in on the goals you’ve set for yourself.

I have found professional and volunteer mentoring programs online. There are also articles and how-tos on setting up a mentoring program at work. Many companies have programs in place, mostly through the HR department, to improve productivity, reduce turnover, increase knowledge transfer, create a culture which encourages employee growth, and enhance professional development. By using employees to do professional development instead of bringing in an outside consultant group enhances strategic business initiatives and encourages internal relationships.

I have a few people in mind to talk to about this to see if we would be a good fit for each other.  The next step will be to take the plunge and set up the meetings. It’s time to stop thinking about what I need to do to be a better person and grow in my career, and get moving on making it happen!

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2 comments

  1. Oscar Reyes Jr Reply

    I would add to the 4th great tips, not only to be clear but to also be honest with your mentor and with yourself!

    1. Kelsey Garner Reply

      Great tip, Oscar! I think it’s important to be honest with your progress when discussing goals with your mentor and share if any priorities have shifted.