Daily Archives: March 29, 2013

The Mentor Test

stk20585pwhYou’ve probably heard the benefits of finding a mentor, how they can help with skill development and learning the ropes in the working world. Mentors can offer wonderful advice on how to handle some of the unspoken rules in the business environment, as well as help coach and challenge you in your career.

But you can’t trust just anyone with this role. Here are three things to look for when you’re selecting a mentor.

Find someone you respect.
They could be the hot shot sales rep in your business or the fastest on the production line, but do you respect them? Consider your personal values when selecting a mentor. One person’s style and method for getting to the top may not align with your values and work ethic. Even if you admire someone’s achievements, if you can’t respect the way they reached them, there isn’t any point in making them your mentor.

Find someone you trust.
Once you’ve established a mentoring relationship, you’ll be sharing your challenges and frustrations in order to seek advice and learn. This information is often best kept confidential. If you can’t trust your mentor, you may find yourself holding back or not offering your full side of the story, which then results in a relationship that isn’t as productive as it could be. Your mentor should be someone you can share your failures with so you can get advice and a different perspective – without worrying your story will become office gossip.

Find someone you can mutually learn with.
You’re never done learning, especially in today’s business environment. It’s best to select a mentor who is still working and growing in the business world, someone you can learn from and alongside. This is important when trying to learn how changes in production, financing, communication, and technology will impact your industry. If you have someone who can give you a historical perspective in the industry while going through a transition or change in your job or business, it will provide a unique filter to the situation and give you greater confidence.

Keep in mind, not all mentor relationships are formal. You may learn and take advice from someone on a certain project or at a certain stage in your career, and it won’t be until later that you look back and realize you were being mentored. However, it’s important to make sure you consider the source when taking advice on your career. Hopefully, these three things to check for will be a quick and easy reminder for you to filter guidance through.

What do you look for in a mentor? Share with us in the comments section below.