Posted by: christopherfeld | April 13, 2011

Engaging with mentors

I’ve blogged about the importance of mentoring for one’s personal and career development. You may have heard of others urging you to enlist a mentor. But some many not know how to engage with mentors. This post will address just that.

  • Remember that mentoring is about relationships and helping others. According to Dr. Troy Nielson, his research shows that “the natural emergence of mentoring relationships comes out of genuine interest in helping others” (class lecture 2011). Mentoring thus comes down to a mindset.
  • Don’t come on too heavy. It scares seasoned professionals when a new employee asks them to begin a mentoring relationship. The time commitment may cause them to be reluctant. Take time to get to know key mentors that support one’s values and developmental desires and areas.
  • Carefully select the mentor. Make efforts to learn about what a potential mentor does in their role. Get an idea about who they are. Drawing from one’s individual development plan areas. Then find someone with expertise in that area, think of their expertise in the organization.
  • Be cautious when identifying mentors when joining a new organization. See if this is someone that one can trust, and ascertain whether they have one’s wellbeing at heart.
  • Hold oneself accountable through others. Have someone that one trusts and have them hold one accountable for one’s progress with their mentoring progress.
  • Use peer mentors. Identify 1-2 classmates, and stay in touch. Speak regularly about developmental challenges. The use of peer mentors begs the point that the mentoring relationship doesn’t have to be with someone who is senior to you or hierarchical in experience. This approach can offer accountability and a fresh perspective.
  • Be a good mentor for others. Being a mentor requires self-awareness and the humility of going through the process. Those that are mentored early on are more likely to mentor later for someone else. Mentoring is about knowing where one can add the most value to others. It may be that one’s greatest mentoring could be to connect others.
  • Know people by name, by talent, and by experience! Plain stated, this is a critical leadership behavior.
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