Finding a Mentor at Work
I want you to picture the scene for me; it's 9AM on Monday and you've just arrived at work. Your first coffee of the day has kicked in and just about pulled you back into the land of the living after the weekend, but something feels off. You just don't have the motivation you once had for the job and you're dreading another day of the same old routine.
Don't fret though, there's not a human being alive who hasn't felt this at some point, but how do you get out of this slump? Well, perhaps a good mentor could be just the boost you need to reignite your passion for the job.
Why would you want a mentor?
The best mentors have the power to motivate, to push you out of your comfort zone and to draw out hidden talents you didn't even know you had. They can turn your job from what was once a daily grind into something challenging and meaningful.
How can a mentor help you?
They'll help define your career goals and how to achieve them
Maybe you know exactly where you want to be in five years time but don't know how to get there? Or maybe you're on day one of a new job and you don't have a clue what you even want from your career yet? The good news is this is exactly where a mentor can help.
By applying their own experiences to your situation, a good mentor will help you define your goals, give you tangible milestones to work towards, provide advice and make sure you're motivated to stay on track.
They'll challenge you to be better than you are and grow your skill set
One of the hardest things you can do is to try and change yourself for the better, and staying motivated when you try to do everything yourself can be a challenge. However, with a mentor at your back, you have that extra kick to work on your weaknesses and learn new skills simply because you don't want to let them down.
A mentor can show you exactly who you could be if you're willing to put the work in.
They'll expand your network and open you up to new opportunities
Mentors usually have years of experience behind them in multiple different roles, and this usually comes with an extensive list of useful contacts. Working closely with a mentor builds up a degree of trust and, once they know you have the skills, they won't hesitate to recommend you to the people they know in their network.
Suddenly, whole new sectors can be opened up for you, maybe your mentor recommends you for a management programme? Or there's an overseas opportunity you get to hear about first? Never underestimate the power of a good reference from a mentor and their network.
What kind of mentor would you want?
Most importantly - Find someone you admire and want to be like
You'd think this might be an obvious point, but for many people the closest thing they might have to a mentor is their current boss and, as we know, not all of us have a great relationship with our boss!
So don't be afraid to look outside of your immediate hierarchy at work and even outside of your current organisation for a good mentor. Find a mentor who is living the life that you want to live.
Find someone who shares your values and syncs up with your personality
You might find what you thought was the perfect mentor, but if you don't connect on a personal level then the relationship is doomed from the start.
The best mentors and mentees must click in both values and personality and often work well when there's a shared sense of integrity and a strong work ethic, a mentor won't want to put the time in with you if they think you're not going to be committed.
You don't have to be a carbon copy of your mentor but shared interests can go a long way!
How to ask someone to be your mentor?
Build a relationship first, be respectful then don't be afraid to just ask
It's very unlikely you'll be able to just sidle up to your chosen mentor and proclaim, "Hey, I think you're great, here's 10 ways you can help me out!"
If you haven't built a relationship first you'll be putting them in a very awkward position. Your chosen mentor is also probably very busy themselves or might not be ready, or even want to take on a new mentee right now.
Take your time and show a genuine interest in them first, if you've you've found someone you admire then this shouldn't be a problem.
If your chosen mentor is someone at your current organisation, reach out and tell them you admired how they handled a certain situation or project and ask if they'd be OK sharing some advice. Don't over demand, start slowly and see if they'd be open to regular monthly catch-ups.
If your chosen mentor is a friend or family member though, great! They'll probably be far more receptive to you being honest and just asking them for help.
Above all though, be respectful. Being a mentor can be a big ask of someone and you might have to prepare yourself for possible rejection. Don't get disheartened though and remember, finding a mentor could be your first step to a better career.