Statistics show that being mentored at work means that a promotion will head your way 5 times more often. That’s reason enough to work with a mentor, right? But, mentoring relationships could get derailed because of differences in outlook or workstyles. So, take time to find the right mentor and your relationship will be more rewarding, especially if you keep the following in mind:
Align your mentoring expectations with your career goals
Before settling on a mentor, review your own career goals. Would you want to be a specialist or a manager? Do you want to focus on select functions that require a different workstyle? Are you looking for a role change or a promotion? Answering these questions honestly will help you understand what you want from a mentoring relationship and narrow down your options from a long list of potential mentors. Also, remember to explain your goals to your mentor, who will then understand exactly where he or she can help you.
Look for workstyle compatibility
Let’s say your objective is to improve your sales skills. But if your mentor and you have differing views on pacing work, setting deadlines and processes, or focusing on tasks, these opposing workstyles might become energy-drainers and make it difficult to concentrate on the results. Therefore, to get the most out of a mentoring experience, make other aspects of your relationship as frictionless as possible.
Outsiders can offer perspective
While an internal mentor can help you learn the ropes and even become your sponsor within the company, sometimes it makes sense to also look for a mentor outside of work. An external mentor could bring an outsider’s perspective to your role in the organization, helping you see opportunities that you hadn’t noticed before. In addition, you may find it easier to be vulnerable with people outside of the organizational set-up. The best scenario, of course, is to have mentors both within and outside the organization.
Think of skills, not age
While many of us have had older mentors, sometimes the right kind of mentorship can come from an unexpected, and younger quarter— a junior team member who is a champ in personal marketing, or a younger business associate who helps you negotiate external relationships better. Depending on your mentoring needs, do not hesitate to seek help from younger or junior people. Besides, offering a chance to mentor you is a great way to boost the morale of junior members in the organization.
Once you’ve found the perfect mentor, remember, even rewarding mentorships can eventually outlive their utility. Acknowledge this fact and keep your relationship with your mentor fluid so that even after the mentoring sessions have run their course, your relationship will continue to be mutually supportive.