Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mentoring: Finding a Trusted Advisor

"A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could." - Unknown

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a relationship between an experienced individual (mentor) who shares his or her professional skills, knowledge and insights with another individual (mentee) willing and ready to learn, grow and develop skills and confidence in his or her professional development.

What role does the mentor play?

The mentor helps the mentee to develop a greater sense of competence, self-confidence, identity, and enhanced effectiveness in a professional role by being a role model, by encouraging and by counselling.

The main roles of the mentor include teaching, coaching, providing feedback and supporting. He or she helps the participant to learn the ropes, to adjust to work challenges and to prepare for career advancement. The mentor is a trusted and friendly adviser or guide, especially for someone new to a particular role.

What role does the mentee play?

The mentee is an individual who wishes to acquire new work-related competencies and abilities. He/she may also wish to increase his or her self-confidence and chances of success in the realization of his or her professional objectives through a mentoring relationship.

What are the benefits of mentoring?

The benefits for the mentee are numerous. For example:

  • Receiving and learning to apply the advice and guidance provided by the mentor,
  • Learning to be dedicated to a professional relationship,
  • Having an experienced person with whom to exchange ideas,
  • Developing new skills and gaining new experiences,
  • Preparing for more responsibilities and career advancement.

How do you find a mentor and build a relationship?

  • First, clarify your objective before you begin looking for a mentor. Think about whether or not you want an individual who can provide general career guidance or someone who would be able to give you specialized counselling. Outline how that person might assist you with your goals and career aspirations.
  • Think about the types of individuals who might be a good match to your requirements. The ideal mentor may not always be someone in your profession or field of expertise. For example, if you have management aspirations, you might want to search out a mentor who will provide management advice and resources to help you manage people and be a strong, effective leader. If a suitable mentor isn't available within your organization, you could ask colleagues and friends for recommendations or consider individuals you have met through professional associations or outside interests.
  • It may seem a daunting task to ask for help, but few individuals will be offended when you ask them to be your mentor. You are, in effect, seeking their counsel and guidance, and also recognizing their expertise.
  • If someone seems reluctant to become your mentor, try to find out why. Sometime it's as simple as making it easier for the individual to help you out. For example, you might establish a timetable of contacts and meetings to suit the schedule and demands of the mentor.

Once you have a mentor, it's important to keep him or her up to date on your progress and to show your appreciation for the assistance he or she is providing.

It takes time to build and maintain a relationship with a mentor but it's worth the effort. The benefits can be enormous. In reality, your mentor becomes a trusted counsellor and teacher who can help you achieve the career goals you are aiming for.

Leaman Long, B.A., B.Ed.
HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists Y2

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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