Connecting with the right mentor plays a crucial role in your professional career. Mentoring is especially important for large organizations, where there is a constant need for new leaders to take on challenging roles and responsibilities. In a 2006 Gartner Study at Sun Microsystems, it was reported that 72% of mentees who received mentoring programs were retained longer within an organization. The same study also revealed that mentees who received mentoring programs were six times more likely to receive a promotion.
Mentorship is valuable for young managers who reach out to mentors, but also for the senior leaders in the organization who take up the role of mentoring. It helps a mentee learn valuable career lessons, which contributes to overall career success and for the mentor, an opportunity to develop essential leadership skills.
Finding a good mentor who can align with your career aspirations can be a challenging task. Here are 5 ways you can connect with the right mentor and have a fruitful mentor-mentee relationship.
- Reach out to your first circle of contacts
A good place to connect with the right mentor is to start looking at experts and seniors managers from your own networks. Your colleagues and managers can also help you establish connections with former employees or leaders within the organization who can be of great value in your mentor network.
Once a list of potential mentors is made, the employee must take their time to research and evaluate them. Many times, if not direct managers, managers in parallel teams can serve as great mentors. They may have relevant industry experience and understand organizational vision and alignment of employees’ growth to the vision better.
- Network extensively at all events
Organizational events or corporate networking sessions are great places to meet potential mentors. Mentees must invest their time in attending events which brings the best of leadership from across the organization and step out of their comfort zone to connect with new people. It’s a great platform to identify potential mentors and ask important and insightful questions.
- Learn your mentor’s experience and their interest in mentoring
Most large organizations have a common portal which acts as an online networking platform for their employees. Mentees can find more information about leaders within the organization through these portals or using professional networking tools like LinkedIn. One way to identify if someone is open to mentoring is to look at how they are advising or contributing to other’s projects. Active mentors will always have other teams consulting them for advice from time to time.
- Know your goal and know your mentor’s goal
Once a mentee has been able to get in touch with a potential mentor, it is important for both the mentee and mentor to share their expectations from the relationship. A mentee should be able to share his/her reason to reach out and the goals they wish to achieve through the mentorship. This helps in establishing a common ground and provides the mentor with the clarity of what experiences they can bring to the table to guide the mentee. This will also help the mentor to realistically set their mentoring goals for their mentees.
- Learn from different perspectives
It is in our nature to connect with someone who agrees with us, but this could be a wrong approach when you are finding a mentor. When connecting with mentors, mentees must be open to someone who may not have a similar personality or approach. A difference in perspective and approach to a problem can be a good learning experience for both the mentor and the mentee. It is not necessary that the mentor must always have the same point of view as the mentee. The sole aim of the mentor must be to push the mentee towards success and challenge them enough to keep them motivated.
You must understand that mentoring is not a one-way communication from mentor to mentee. Mentors must be able to see their success and satisfaction in mentoring and should be willing to commit their time and experience to the mentee’s goals. Added to this, mentee’s must also closely keep track of projects or initiatives that mentors are pursuing actively to contribute to their success. A good mentee is someone who always looks for an opportunity to give back to the mentor in their small ways.