Finding a career mentor

2017-11-13 10:45
The control room where officials observe the CCTVs. (Adam Wakefield, News24)

The control room where officials observe the CCTVs. (Adam Wakefield, News24)

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PARENTS teach their children to behave in social situations. Friends and partners advise one another to be more confident, to make positive changes or to cope with difficult experiences. Successful sport people and entertainers are coached to improve their performance. At work, you might need someone who will also teach you the ropes, especially if you want to go far in your career. 


To be successful at work, you should consider getting a mentor. This person will help you to achieve your personal or work goals. They won’t do it for you – but they will advise you on how to go about it. They will motivate, encourage, support and challenge you to appreciate your own abilities and to be your best. They will also help you to identify actions that will produce desired results. 

 Write down a list of your weaknesses. This will give you an idea of where your mentor can help you. You might want to improve your skills at work or you might want someone to listen to you and give you their opinion on matters.  

According to two South African coaching ?rms, NLP South Africa and results life coaching, a mentor can help you do the following:

¦ Prioritise what is important to you.

¦ Set clear goals so you know where you are going.

¦ Help you to draw up a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals.

¦ Set deadlines that will help you stick to your plan.

¦ Think creatively and come up with solutions.

¦ Identify and get rid of bad habits. 

  • Challenge you to do what you set out to do and not allow you to give up.
  • Build self-motivation, self-esteem, integrity and experience.
  • Consider the people you respect at work, at church or in your community. Suitable mentors are people who have good reputation. There are also people who mentor for a living. A professional mentor should be accredited by a coaching body and will have had professional coaching training. 
  •   Professional mentoring sessions are expensive and you can pay anything from R250 upwards per session. Find out if the company you work for has an in-house mentoring programme. Some companies may also be willing to pay for external coaching services as their way of developing young professionals.


  • Make an appointment with the person you have in mind and ask them to become your mentor.
  • ?     Explain why you have chosen them and how you think they can help you. Tell them what it is that you want them to teach you. For example, they could give practical advice on business matters, help you to develop better people skills and challenge you to work harder on your goals.

?     Decide together which of these aspects your mentor should help with. Agree on how often you should meet to monitor your progress.  

  •  Not all mentoring needs to be done face to face. Talking over the phone, writing letters or sending e-mail can be just as good in some cases

Read more on:    work  |  career

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