Finding the right mentor begins by asking yourself why you want one, says professional coach Marie McIntyre (www.yourofficecoach.com). Do you want to:
1. Expand your knowledge? “This may mean learning about an unfamiliar function, such as finance or marketing,” says McIntyre. “Or it may mean getting a broader view of the company from those at a higher level.”
2. Develop your weaker side? “If you are quiet and reserved, spend time with an extrovert,” she says. “If you are a creative, big-picture thinker, learn from someone who is good with data and details.”
3. Get career guidance? “When you want to move into a different type of work or a new department in the company, the first step is to make contacts there,” she says. Tip: Do some informational interviewing to learn about different jobs or departments. If you “click” with someone, ask if you can continue to consult with him or her about your career development.
4. Learn specific skills? If you want to become an outstanding speaker, for example, find a role model who does it well.
Once you’ve found your motivation, follow these tips:
- Seek out a truth-speaker. You want to learn and grow, so you need someone willing to honestly assess your strengths, challenges and the areas you need to develop.
- Pick a mentor with a solid reputation. “You want mentors who are well-regarded in your organization,” McIntyre says. When opportunities arise, the right mentor’s recommendation can help you snag a promotion or a desirable project.
- Know when it’s over. Some mentoring relationships are time-limited. “All relationships change and evolve over time,” McIntyre says. When you’ve reached your destination, it’s OK to shift that relationship to a more equal one.