Mentoring: how, what, where and why?

In a world where seemingly every piece of information can be ‘Googled’, there’s still some knowledge that can only be gained through hands on experience.

As a result, having a mentor who is further ahead in their career than you can be a great catalyst when it comes to taking your own role to the next level.

A mentor is now considered a vital tool in any ambitious professional’s armoury, providing access to years of information, experience and advice and who isn’t afraid to challenge you, highlight your weaknesses or to really push you in order to help you to achieve your full potential. 

In an increasingly competitive job market, having a mentor can often give you the edge required to secure that crucial position. Whether you’re a recent graduate or a senior professional in your field, being mentored grants you a whole new perspective and gives you the opportunity to learn from someone else’s invaluable experience.

A mentoring relationship can also be beneficial to the mentor, enabling them to strengthen their coaching and leadership skills, offering them fresh insight into their own role and helping them to identify and retain talent within the organisation. 

So what should you bear in mind when seeking out a mentor?

1. Take a minute to reflect on why you want a mentor and what you hope to gain from being mentored. It could be that you’re returning to work following maternity leave or that you’re hoping to make the transition into a new industry or that you simply want to move your career to the next stage.

Answering the initial question of why you want to establish a mentor-mentee relationship will help steer your mentoring sessions in the direction of your career goals. Analysing what it is you want from the relationship in advance will greatly increase your chances of making the partnership a success.

2. There are lots of great schemes available to individuals that aim to match them with a mentor. However, most people overlook their own network, both on and offline.

Look around at the people that you already interact with and think about who would make a great mentor for you. Perhaps they already mentor someone else or they occupy a position that you one day hope to hold.

By approaching someone who already knows you, and to whom you have previously demonstrated your potential, the ways in which you think, and how you communicate and interact with others, you stand a greater chance of them agreeing to be your mentor.

3. To get the most out of your mentoring sessions, you should meet with your mentor regularly, once a month if possible, quarterly if not. Always plan ahead before your meetings, entering them with an agenda, an update on your progress since the last meeting and the key discussion points you want to cover.

Meetings with your mentor should ideally take place in an informal setting, away from any work-related distractions. The neutrality of a lunch or coffee meeting will underline the impartiality of the relationship but also assist with thinking ‘outside of the box’ when brainstorming.

4. The right mentor will assist you in moving forwards. Tough love is often the name of the game though as, thanks to having distance from the situation, mentors are able to identify and highlight the issues that need tackling, which the mentee may struggle to see on their own. Even if it might at times be hard to hear, it’s important that such feedback is acknowledged and acted on.

Mentees often talk about how a successful mentoring relationship has enabled them to clarify their priorities, helped them to foster good work habits and, ultimately, made them a more effective employee who is ready to take on new challenges. 

Here at Elevation we are an integrated Group of multi-disciplined recruitment specialists. Our recruitment consultants are reliable, long serving and trusted, and are specifically trained to offer career development advice.

If you are an individual looking for your next challenge and wish to discuss how the Elevation Recruitment Group can assist your search and help you to take your career to the next level, please contact us today. 

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