Today's Big Picture

Oct 20 2010   7:20PM GMT

Mentors @ Work: Why and How to Find one



Posted by: Shilpa Venkateshwaran
Tags:
Career
Mentor

Are you a person who likes to learn, enhance your skills, advance in your job or are looking for a job and don’t know where to start? The best way to approach this is to find a mentor.  Mentor is a trusted counselor or guide. They take you under their wing and help your quest. They are more than just a friend or acquaintance at work: they are someone who will work with you on a regular basis, who will guide you and criticizes your (constructively).

What is mentoring about?

Its about finding a person who is in a position where you want to be in say 2 or 5 years. The position could be a job role, work ethics the person follows or their attitude. You have to have matching wavelengths as them and also have good chemistry. This does not mean he or she has to be exactly like you but someone you aspire to be. You will be spending a lot of time with this person so you have to pick someone you get along with and someone who will critic you, advice you and have long conversations with you. Mentors coach you with their learnings, experiences and knowledge. They teach you things they learned from the industry, work and their peers or colleagues. This will in turn help you grow in your job and work life. You will be able to handle things thrown at you better and react faster to changes or situations.

How to find a mentor?

Find out if your work or school has a mentoring program in place. If you are trying to find a mentor on your own, find a person you admire. This person can be someone you work with or just someone you know. You can have more than one mentor. You can find short term mentors to work on small goals like public speaking or working on your written communication skills. You also have to find someone who is willing to teach and share their experiences and learnings. Mentoring is an art in itself and cannot be done by everyone. Think back to the teachers who taught you in school or college. Think of the ones that had an impact on you or guided you. The things they taught back then are probably lessons you still remember. Same way you have to find a teacher/mentor who can help you at work or career. You have to find a person who has time for you. You don’t want a person who is busy and has no time to meet with you. No matter how great a teacher they are, if they don’t have time you will not reap long term benefits from this mentoring.

Some Tips

Don’t ask your direct manager to be your mentor. It has to be someone you can talk freely about work and career.
Choose someone senior to you or someone who excels in the area you are looking for to be mentored in.
Mentoring takes time, chemistry and trust. This does not happen in one day so you really have to be patient.
Be open to learning and change.
Be ready to accept criticism. Its not easy but sometimes its important to hear truth.

Sign off note: Do you have mentors?

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