Surviving in the professional world can be quite daunting sometimes. It may feel like you are alone dealing with a world much bigger than yourself in which you may feel abandoned, inconsequential and insignificant. Sometimes it may be difficult to get your bearings and decide where to go next and how to make the tough decisions that will affect your professional future and even the future of your other team members. It doesn’t matter who you are or at what point of your career you may find yourself, a mentor is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to help you navigate uncertainty.
Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about the great advantages of having a mentor and the ways the can help you boost your career advancement. Even though the practice of mentorship is a mutual process that cannot be rushed or monopolized by only one of the parties, it is very useful if at least one of them is informed about the skills, attitude, and expectations that should be observed when getting involved in a mentor-mentee relationship. For the mentor is important to self-evaluate and see if they are up to the task of holding such a responsibility and for the mentee is crucial to understand how to make the most out of the bond so it can be as mutually beneficial as possible.
Let’s take a look then at some of the most important aspects to consider, when choosing a mentor or when deciding to become one.
Success is a good indicator of the right mentor.
Success comes with a price and that price is more often than not, paid with dedication and hard work. A mentor is someone you should look up to, and therefore they must have achieved a level of distinction within their field that you want to emulate to some degree. Look for a person who is already at a place where you want to be yourself, either professionally or personally. Remember that being successful is much more than being wealthy or having a great position within a company. You must also weigh in other aspects that you consider make a person admirable in your eyes and successful within your own personal parameters of achievement.
Mentoring is a two-way street.
Understand this is a reciprocal relationship and both parties should give as much as themselves as they are receiving from their partner. A mentor is a human being and just like their mentees, they are not a finished product, they still have much to learn from other aspects in life. Even just the fact that they are mentoring someone is a very rewarding and challenging opportunity to learn. Some people wrongfully believe that the mentee’s job is to receive while the mentor gives and gives; nothing could be further from the truth as the right partnership involves both parties giving and receiving.
Choose someone who is different from you.
A mentor is a person whose life and achievements you value, this could be in the personal as well as on the professional spectrum. Seeking for a mentor that can help you in different aspects of your life is the best way to get the most out of your partnership. Mentors can be people who help you be healthier, to learn a new skill and also someone who can be part of your professional world and help you get ahead in that particular aspect.
Have more than one choice.
You do not have to go with the first person that interests you as a mentor. You can meet several people and evaluate each of them individually to make the best choice. Remember this is a partnership that you want to keep for a long time and it is important to be informed and well educated on the matter before you make a decision. Take your time and evaluate your options as you will have many.
Find someone with more experience than you.
The purpose of a mentorship is to find someone who can guide you and instruct you based on his or her experience in the field that you want to improve. Working with someone who has the same experience as you can be a great opportunity to discover new things together, but that is not a mentorship. If you are interested in a mentor-mentee dynamic then you must work with someone who is more experienced than you in order to take advantage of that experience.
Trust is key.
The relationship of a mentor and his or her mentee must be based on mutual trust and total confidence. Understand that your conversations and sessions are a safe place where no topic should be off-limits within the boundaries of reason. It is important you chose someone who you can trust because they will help you make decisions that are crucial to your future.
Your values and beliefs should be similar.
This goes with the point we just discussed. A person who shares moral perspectives and similar beliefs is someone who you will most likely trust easily. It is important to gauge this type of views before you being the partnership and that is why it is important to establish rapport and to engage in activities and time spent together before making a decision.