Parents and teachers guide children’s values and behaviour in their early years.
Later in life, we have friends and partners to advise and support us through our challenging times.
But what about our careers? Successful athletes are coached to improve their performance, and if you really want to go places, you’ll probably also need someone to show you the ropes.
Right now, many of us have had to face the unthinkable – working fewer hours, losing our jobs altogether, trying to find new work or a way to reinvent ourselves in order to make a living again. In these trying times it can be a great help to have someone more experienced by your side – a mentor who can give you the proper guidance to get back on track.
WHAT DOES A MENTOR DO?
A mentor can help you set your personal or work goals, as well as achieve them. They won’t do the work for you, but they will advise and guide you. They will motivate, encourage, support and challenge you to appreciate your own abilities and to be your best.
Write down a list of your weaknesses – this might give you an idea of how a mentor can help you. For example, do you struggle to prioritise what’s important to you, set goals, draw up a step-by-step plan to achieve those goals, set deadlines and stick to them, think creatively and come up with solutions, identify and eliminate bad habits, challenge yourself, build self-motivation, self-esteem, integrity and experience?
FINDING THE RIGHT MENTOR FOR YOU
Research your field of interest and then create a list of people who seem like a good fit to you.
You can ask family and friends for referrals and reach out to your extended network, like colleagues, teachers and professors, and LinkedIn contacts.
Look for someone with a good reputation, like a respected boss or someone in a professional or community association. Also check out the profiles of business leaders in magazines and online.
There are people who mentor for a living, but make sure they are accredited by a coaching body and have had professional coaching training.
Professional mentoring sessions can be expensive so first 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.
APPROACHING A POTENTIAL MENTOR
Before you make contact, make sure you have researched them well – know what they do, what they have achieved and what their interests are. If possible, talk to others who know them.
Email, message or phone them, or approach them at an event – whatever is most appropriate – and ask them if they are willing to become your mentor. Explain why you have chosen them and how you think they can help you.
Be specific – tell them what it is 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. If they agree, decide together which of these aspects your mentor can best assist you with and how often you should meet to monitor your progress.
If you have a specific question you’d like help with, we’d like to hear from you.
Send us your details with your question and we’ll try to find a suitable professional to answer your query in this newsletter. Contact us on: Newsletters@drum.co.za