Selecting a Workplace Mentor for Positive Growth
Whenever you begin a new career or start a new job, finding a good mentor to look up to and learn from is one of the most important things you can do. Without a mentor, employees often find themselves settling into a subpar work routine rather than connecting with someone who has achieved great things in their field and learning as much as they can from them.
There is a common turn-of-phrase that, “if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” and this lesson certainly applies in the workforce. If you don’t aspire to be better than the best employee in the office, you will never grow and know true success in any field. Following a few key guidelines will help you find a mentor and gain success from your decision.
Who you choose as your mentor is just as important as choosing to select a mentor in the first place. You must choose the person who you believe to be the most successful employee for you to gain knowledge and insight from.
It isn’t enough to go up to the boss and say, “Hey, you would make a great mentor.” Your mentor must also have the time to mentor you. Oftentimes, mentors are far from the boss. People who run companies are extremely busy and typically hire individuals to do the managing and mentoring for them. If your boss has a right-hand man/woman, consider negotiating with that person to be your mentor.
An exceptional mentor should encompass all of the elements of a strong leader. They should be knowledgeable in their career, empathetic to co-worker strife, unsatisfied by mediocrity, constantly looking for areas to improve and to grow and a go-getter. Mentors should be able to manage conflict with professionalism and poise, even if the conflict stems from working with difficult people in the office. They should be excellent problem solvers and creative thinkers.
Above all, a mentor should be a leader in the field of mentoring. The best mentor has been through training and courses designed to improve leadership skills. They have sat in on continuing training meetings with leaders in their office and have gained updated knowledge in the field. An easy rule to follow when selecting a mentor: if you have nothing to learn or gain from them, move on and find someone more fitting.
Mentors play a key role in the advancement of a company. Mentors enable fellow employees to work harder and aim higher in their goals. Mentors develop a sense of comradery in the office, bringing people together and creating an environment of synergy and teamwork. They have the ability to bring the workplace from ineffective to efficient.
However, mentors also have the ability to make the workplace highly chaotic. Mentors, though knowledgeable and professional, are not perfect. Mentors make mistakes, mentors provide false information, and mentors, like all people, lose their temper from time to time.
Knowing when to listen to a mentor and when to take a step back is a very relevant skill in the workplace. Mentors have off days too. They couldn’t possibly come to work every day and be a leader all the time. There are moments when a mentor is overwhelmed, under-experienced or just plain fed up or exhausted.
If you find yourself getting advice from a mentor that you feel a little iffy about, simply take a moment to decide if it is the best advice for you. If the advice goes directly against your own values or your own strategies for success, consider taking it with a grain of salt. Mentors know a lot, but they don’t know everything.
Being an individual in a team is really difficult. There are 100 thoughts, ideas and notions running through everyone’s heads that make it nearly impossible to feel confident about every single one of them. Sometimes you have to make the tough choice of saying, “This isn’t for me; this doesn’t feel right.” Have a sense of self in the workplace, even if you are being counseled by a mentor.
Mentors can be beneficial for a number of reasons. They can give you the secret ins and outs of a company, they can introduce you to successful people, and they can provide you with invaluable feedback and advice. Making sure you have the right mentor for you only makes these experiences more meaningful for your future.
Kelly is a writer from Boise Idaho. She enjoys writing about the outdoors and her dog, Cassius. In her spare time, she writes captivating fiction and confusing poetry. Follow her @kellyshep14 on Twitter!
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