Success with a mentor July 30, 2008Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting a mentor.
Tags: a good mentor, advice, Getting a mentor, getting help, mentor, sounding board, success, suggestions
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a person who provides you advice, suggestions and acts as a sounding board for your ideas.
Who would make a good mentor for me?
Anyone you respect and trust can be an effective mentor for you. This person does not have to be in your chain of command nor even in your company. The prospective mentor is someone you view as a role model. Your mentor would be someone who wants to help you, knows about you and is willing to spend some time with you on a regular basis. A key characteristic of effective mentors is that they are honest with you. Usually mentors are not compensated, but you might consider hiring a personal coach to serve as your mentor.
How do I get someone to be my mentor?
This one is easy. All you need to do is ask! Most people are flattered that you would consider them a role model and would seek their advice and counsel. Do not be afraid to ask someone who has greater skill than you or has a higher position. In fact, this is the very person you could ask to be an effective mentor. An approach I have used successfully is to frame my request this way:
“Joe, I have watched you and want you to know I am impressed with your style. I think I could learn a great deal from you. Would you be willing to spend about an hour a month to work with me?”
How do I handle the mentoring sessions?
Setting up and keeping the appointments with your mentor are your responsibility. Think about how you want to spend that hour with your mentor, and create an agenda. Send the agenda to your mentor ahead of time to allow them to prepare. Most mentors are turned off by the person showing up and asking “What do I need to do to be successful?” Specific situation analysis and question preparation will yield not only excellent counseling but also a strong desire on the part of the mentor to help you.
Once you have demonstrated a willingness to be coached on a scheduled basis, the mentor may suggest you could be more flexible in your contact, and may agree to meet with you more often or to handle ad hoc questions you may have.
My company has a mentor program, should I sign up for that program?
Usually these company sponsored programs are for career mentors. That is the mentor helps you decide on what assignments or career paths you might follow. These mentors often look out for you in terms of making sure you get considered for opportunities. They often perform a vital public relations function for you.
I would certainly participate in such a program if one existed. In addition, I would also have my own personal mentor.
How many mentors do I need?
Well, start with one in an area where you could use help. Perhaps you may have a mentor who helps you handle conflict more effectively; or you may have a broader topic like a mentor who helps you become a more effective people manager. Once you have established your skill is setting up a mentor, try to expand into other areas with multiple mentors. Here are some areas you may want to consider:
- Dealing with office politics
- Handling financial situations
- Understanding technical subjects
- Developing marketing or sales skills
The Big Dogz understand the value of having a mentor to help them become more effective. If you do not have a mentor, start looking around to see who you could ask. Set yourself a target of when you will approach them. Practice your request with others or in front of the mirror. When you make your request, make it count.
In my next entry, I will discuss being a mentor.