Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS -

There are dis­tinct ad­van­tages for the or­ga­ni­za­tion that im­ple­ments such a pro­gram. Af­ter all, the per­son be­ing men­tored will cer­tainly ben­e­fit from learn­ing their job in a more ef­fec­tive way while the men­tor is able to con­nect with new staff, im­part their knowl­edge (vi­tal to suc­ces­sion plan­ning) and help foster a sense of com­mu­nity. It also al­le­vi­ates some pres­sure to re­cruit and hire em­ploy­ees with the “per­fect” skill set, know­ing that some skills can be ac­quired through con­sis­tent on-the-job men­tor­ing.

Even if your work­place does not have a men­tor­ing pro­gram, do not let that de­ter you from find­ing some­one will­ing to help en­hance and ad­vance your ca­reer.

When look­ing for a men­tor, the best place to start is by iden­ti­fy­ing some­one you re­spect and ad­mire. This can be a col­league, but it could also be some­one in your field or a pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tion. Other con­sid­er­a­tions:

Choose a men­tor whose goals and val­ues are sim­i­lar to your own. It should be some­one you look up to as a role model and can com­mu­ni­cate eas­ily with.

This per­son should have a sim­i­lar ca­reer tra­jec­tory as you, or is on a path that you wish to fol­low.

A men­tor should have a pos­i­tive and en­cour­ag­ing at­ti­tude, good lis­ten­ing skills, the abil­ity to pro­vide con­struc­tive feed­back, and be com­fort­able with dis­cussing a wide range of is­sues. A good sense of humour is help­ful, too.

Do not ask your di­rect su­per­vi­sor to be your men­tor. In­stead, choose some­one with whom you can talk freely about your ca­reer chal­lenges and work­place is­sues.

En­sure that your men­tor has suf­fi­cient time to com­mit to a men­tor­ing re­la­tion­ship by dis­cussing your mu­tual ex­pec­ta­tions in ad­vance.

Take the ini­tial step in ap­proach­ing a po­ten­tial men­tor, as the mentee is the one who ben­e­fits most from this con­nec­tion. Try a cou­ple of in­for­mal meet­ings or lunches to see if you’re gen­uinely a good fit and can learn from this in­di­vid­ual.

Be will­ing to open up and be hon­est about your­self to your men­tor, as they are most likely to in­vest time and en­ergy in those with whom they iden­tify and can see a bit of their younger self.

Be the kind of mentee you’d want to men­tor if the roles were re­versed. This means be­ing re­spect­ful of your men­tor’s valu­able time, ap­pre­cia­tive for their guid­ance (by ex­press­ing grat­i­tude and by fol­low­ing through on the ad­vice you seek), and be­ing ac­count­able for mak­ing your own de­ci­sions.

Eval­u­ate how well the men­tor­ing re­la­tion­ship is work­ing from time to time. Your men­tor should lis­ten to and en­cour­age your goals, pro­vide hon­est feed­back, help you de­velop bet­ter self­aware­ness, chal­lenge you to grow and cheer your vic­to­ries.

If you’ve re­ceived the gift of good men­tor­ing, the best thing you can do is to pass it on by in­vest­ing in a mentee seek­ing out your help. Men­tor­ing is not only for those in se­nior po­si­tions, nor do you need to know every­thing in your realm of ex­per­tise to be­come a men­tor. In fact, the best men­tors are of­ten those who’ve earned their stripes thanks in part to the as­sis­tance of some­one who helped them along the way.

— With reporting by Bar­bara Chabai


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