Mentoring Makes a Difference – Part I

Mentoring – one-on-one training, advising, and inspiring- is an incredible personal development tool, which benefits and empowers both the mentor and the mentored. In a successful mentoring relationship, both individuals experience both personal and career growth. In fact, many businesses and organizations are discovering the value of creating a mentoring program within their ranks.

Mentoring is beneficial to both individuals. This week, in Part I, we will discuss how and where to find a mentor, what to expect, and your personal responsibilities in the relationship. Next week, In Part II, we will discuss mentoring from the perspective of the mentor.

Regardless of your age, occupation, whether you are a newbie or have years in a company, having a mentor is like finding that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. A good mentor helps you understand yourself and shares advice and wise counsel. They train, challenge, guide, and support you in your professional and personal endeavors. They are a listening ear, a teacher, and an inspiration, holding you accountable and keeping you focused.

Where can I find a mentor?
The best mentoring relationships usually stem from shared business and/or personal interests. If you are a young accountant and want to grow in your professional skills, someone who owns their own accounting firm is more likely to be a great choice than the Chief of Police. On the other hand, if you want to grow in a general area like leadership, then their occupation isn’t as important as their level of growth. Depending on what you are seeking, look for a mentor who has excelled in that area – someone who shares a common interest – business, religious, charitable, hobby, or leisure.

What traits are important in a mentor?
One of the most important issues is to seek someone whom you greatly respect – someone who exhibits the qualities you most admire. If you are going to seek advice, then it is crucial that you trust the advisor. Seek a mentor among those who are older and more experienced – especially in the area you want to focus on in the relationship. Of course, you want an individual with whom you will feel safe – someone you can share your professional/personal frustrations as well as your goals, with complete assurance that it will be kept confidential and will not hinder your professional position.

How do I initiate the mentoring relationship?
Don’t just jump off the high dive without testing the depth of the water. Finding the right mentor needs time. When you have someone in mind, begin by asking their advice on different issues. If they are responsive and you appreciate the advice they give, then you can approach them about being your mentor. Even if an unknown time or commitment constraint means he/she has to say no, they will be honored that you ask and often can direct you to another individual who will be an excellent choice.

What can I expect?
You must first determine your objectives. Do you simply want some training to help you get you on solid ground in a new position? Do you want long-term guidance on growing a business? Do you want advice on developing your soft skills or leadership abilities? Know what you are looking to obtain and discuss this with your mentor. It is important that you both have a clear understanding of the objective. Take time to discuss a plan of action. Will they simply be available for the occasional lunch or are you going to meet on a regular basis? Will they give you “assignments” to complete or just offer general advice? How much accountability do you want and/or are they willing to give? What you can expect is different in different mentoring relationships. The important key is good communication between you and your mentor and like understanding.

What are my responsibilities?
One of your most important responsibilities is to respect and appreciate what your mentor is contributing to your personal and professional growth. Show this respect and appreciation by learning from the relationship and applying the advice that you are given. Be considerate of their boundaries – you are not the only person in their world. Although some mentoring relationships last nearly a lifetime, many serve their purpose and are over. Be aware and recognize when it’s time to say thank you and move on – perhaps to do some mentoring of your own.

Contact Springborn Staffing. We “mentor” candidates in the Bangor and Portland, Maine area into professional relationships and positions that help you to grow.

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