What to Look For in A Mentor
Mentors are one of the most valuable resources that someone can tap into. Most of the time during our careers we get the training side of things- the “how to” part of the job. Mentoring is much less concrete. Mentors give constructive criticism, advice, handling different situations, tips on how to exceed expectations and achieve goals. They bridge the gap between educational theory and actually practicing in a career field. Mentoring also promote professional socialization, a mentor can help someone grow in their career as well as outside of their career, giving them advice on things they have experienced and gone through.
When picking a mentor it is important to look for someone who aligns with your goals and is in a position that you want to see yourself in. These are the qualities you should look for in a mentor:
A great mentor is honest and direct and a great mentee can take this honesty even if it is not what they want to hear. You want a mentor that can be a straight shooter and can give you real world advice. It is also important for them to be honest so that you can trust them. Most of the advice they are giving you is going to have an effect on your career so in order to utilize that advice you’ll need to have a trusting relationship. It is important your mentor provides you with honest feedback so you can learn, grow, and excel in your goals.
Guides You Instead of Manages You
A good mentor won’t tell you what to do they will ask you what you think you should do then guide you from there. A mentor should not be a boss but rather an advisor. Telling a mentee exactly what to do in a situation doesn’t help them learn or develop. Mentees will gain confidence as well as be able to hone their critical thinking skills by thinking out solutions for themselves. A good mentor is able to properly communicate with their mentee by balancing out constructive criticism and praise.
Naturally someone who is your mentor should have a busy schedule and be involved in achieving their own goals and not stagnant in their career. It is also important that they have the time to dedicate to you. Whether that is coffee once a week or dinner once a month a good mentor is available for you to check in with and bounce ideas off of when you need to and not have you feel like you’re bothering them.
Generosity and Curiosity
When picking a mentor you’ll want to look for someone that can dedicate their time as well as want to dedicate their time. Naturally you’ll want to know about them but also in order for them to give you good advice they’ll have to know about you- your goals as well as strengths and weaknesses. Without this it will just be generic advice that might be helpful but most likely will not get you to meet your goals.
It is also important that they are generous and want you to succeed. They will never feel envious or threatened by your growth but rather help you take the steps to get to where you want. They will make connections and offer resources that relate to your goals. A great mentor strives for the end goal of you to come to their level and earn the title of colleague rather than mentee.
Your mentor should be your toughest critic and greatest cheerleader. Make sure to pick a mentor who possesses most if not all of these qualities and you will be sure to achieve your goals through their helpful guidance and advice.