The most successful people will admit they had help along the way. In every stage of our careers, we can benefit from a little guidance. Even in today’s fluid digital economy, we all still have this core need. It’s not just traditional employees who need guidance. If you’re an interim team member and/or you work remotely, you need this type of support as well. This type of guidance can give you a stronger sense of stability and direction in your project and in your long-term career path.
A mentorship is an opportunity
You’ve probably seen a mentorship on TV shows and movies. You may have seen it portrayed as a one-sided relationship between a teacher and a student. However, it’s so much more: it offers fluidity and a variety of opportunities to become inspired. You may have one mentor or you may have more. Remember: you can learn from people in all walks of life.
Let’s look at these 7 tips on how to find your mentor no matter your work setting.
1) Find somebody you want to emulate
Seeking out a mentor takes time. But no matter where you work, there’s always that handful of people who stand out as the rock stars. You identify that they work hard, listen to feedback, and know how to make the right calls. Make time to learn their strengths. Find a good time to chat with them about how they manage weaknesses.
As you move from one project to the next, take time to get to know who else is on your team. Even if you’re working remotely, you can identify people you want to learn from and communicate through emails and collaboration hubs.
2) Ask in the right way
You can’t expect somebody to walk up and offer to mentor you. If this is a work associate or senior, asking for her to be your mentor on the first meeting can be inappropriate.
Instead, ask for coffee or to go out to lunch. Come prepared with some questions, but let the conversation flow naturally. Judge how formal you should be based on her style. Some people prefer not to be called “sir” or “m’am” while others do. Take some time to get to know each other before asking about a mentorship.
3) Define your terms
What does it mean for someone to be your mentor? Ask yourself what you want and need from the relationship. Are you looking for career guidance? Do you want life advice as well? Do you plan on maintaining this relationship as you move on to different positions?
Make a list of what you need from your potential mentor. Keep your goals simple and realistic. Let your potential mentor know you are there on her terms as well.
4) Evaluate and follow up
Mentorships and ambition work hand in hand. It’s important that your mentor know that you’re ready and willing to tackle new goals. After meeting with your mentor to discuss your goals, send her an email to thank her for her time.
You’re still at the vetting stage. You can propose another meeting that works for both of your schedules, but don’t rush anything. Let the relationship evolve organically.
5) Know that challenges are essential
It can be easy to check out when our mentors challenge us. As your relationship grows, your mentor will push you to do new things, test your skills, and break out of your comfort zone.
This is such a crucial stage of personal growth and relationship growth with your mentor. Empower yourself through these challenges. Pat yourself on the back when you overcome them. Learn from your mistakes when they overcome you.
6) Ask for feedback
Mentoring experiences are all about feedback. This is your opportunity to get an expert’s opinion on your work, ideas, and actions. Sometimes feedback can be hard to hear. It’s not easy to listen to our mistakes and even our successes sometimes.
It will feel uncomfortable, but it’s the best way to gain perspective on your work and actions. Use these encounters to grow.
7) Commit to this process
Find ways to show your mentor you take your relationship and the mentoring process seriously. That may be more challenging if you are an interim team member and/or if you work remotely, but use the challenge to show your mentor your level of commitment. Remember: mentoring doesn’t happen in mere weeks.
Even after you’ve ended a project, maintain the relationship. Stay in touch by email, phone calls, and social media. You’ll find the learning doesn’t stop.
The bottom line
If you’re struggling to find a suitable mentor in your workplace, you may want to branch out. You can look into mentoring programs within your field or reach across to industries similar to yours.
Whatever you do, take the time to embrace the potential of a great mentor. This relationship may very well take you to the next stage of your professional life as you grow into the best version of yourself.
Share this with a colleague looking to build a mentorship:
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