Finding a mentor when you have begun to settle down in your career path can strengthen your position even further and help you develop a long-term plan for success. A mentor helps you assess your strengths and weaknesses and can give you a realistic idea of where you stand. If your mentor belongs to the same company as you, they can help foster a sense of belonging and help you navigate office politics. A mentor can also provide a fresh perspective to a problem and act as your sounding board for ideas. In a healthy mentor-mentee relationship, the mentor does more than coach; s/he becomes your friend and well-wisher. Also, a mentor need not be the most successful or famous person in your office or industry; they are simply experienced people you can turn to for advice informally. Here are 5 ways to help you find the right mentor for you:Identify the person you look up toYou should choose for someone you admire and respect. Look for a person who exhibits values and traits that you are trying to emulate. A prospective mentor can be someone from your office or from outside. At times, they can be more than one too. Decide what you need in a mentorOf all the skills you want to develop, pick the top few. For example, if it is discipline and time management you want to work on, you must keep these in mind when choosing a mentor. Once you have an idea of the skills and traits you want to work on, it will become easier to look for a mentor who can help you hone them. Do some research on prospective mentors – what are their communication styles, how do they manage their time, what do that do to meet their targets, etc – to ensure you are a good fit.
Check with your company about a mentoring programmeSome organisations have formal mentoring programmes for employees so ask your HR department about it. This is a good way to grow internally as mentors within your company will offer coaching on values that are important to your organisation and share insights about the succession plan. In such structured arrangements, employees are given personality assessments so that mentees can be matched with compatible mentors.
Test the waters Before you request someone to become your mentor, test the waters by asking for advice. Be sure to reveal as much of yourself as possible as a mentor is more likely to invest in someone in whom they see a little of themselves.
Don’t approach your direct supervisor to be your mentorA mentor should be someone you can talk to freely about career and workplace issues. Having an immediate senior as your mentor will hinder your freedom of expression as many issues may involve them. It is also good to have someone with more experience to mentor you. After all, it is the experience that makes them eligible enough to coach someone.
When working with a mentor, it is important to fulfill mutual expectations so they don’t feel they are only giving and not getting anything in exchange. Ask them whether they need any help -- perhaps an older, experienced mentor may want to get up-to-date with a computer programme.
Be careful not to burden your mentor by becoming overly dependent or demanding too much time and attention. Finally, since the mentor will be giving more to the relationship, be sure to express your gratitude.