Choosing a mentor might seem a simple task, boy did I get that wrong?! This can be really daunting especially for someone who has never considered going down the path of a mentor-ship program. Having said that, in my view, irrespective of your career path you must have a or multiple mentor(s) to help you grow, to inspire and to assist you to build your own brand.
Having sold the idea to you to get yourself a mentor, let us get to the toughest part of this process – finding one who you can efficiently collaborate with to help you sustain a continuous upward growth trajectory.
Top 5 factors to consider while choosing your mentor:
- Experience & Role model – Choose a mentor who you look up to, and aspire to be like going forward. This is critical to ensure you get the most from your mentor and also warrants that you are progressing towards your goal. Finding a mentor who has been in the industry for longer than you, who has a richer and more diverse experience than you can guide, positively impact and help you achieve your objectives and overall growth strategy.
- Availability and Investment – One of the key factors to keep in mind while choosing your mentor is being able to gauge how much time and effort your mentor is willing to put into this journey with you. Understand from your interactions how serious he/she is to mentor you, in other words how much he/she is willing to invest in you? There will be many a time that you pick a mentor who you think is best for you, but he/she is not as invested in this relationship with you resulting in you not benefiting from the same.
- Ethics & Personality – Each of us has certain behavioral patterns, values and beliefs that drive our decision making process, our daily interactions, our mindset to solving problems etc. Choosing a mentor whose personality aligns with your personality and ethics is important. Again align doesn’t mean your mentor has to have similar personality traits as yours. Sometimes having a mixed bag goes a long way – choose to mentor with more than one person, with someone who has similar qualities as yours and also with someone who is in the middle or at the other end of the spectrum. Having this broad range will give you better perspective and an array of ideas to pick from when you are faced with different scenarios at work or outside of work.
- Open Communication – To get the most out of your time with your mentor, it is essential for both you and your mentor to conform to open communication. Working with a mentor who is keen to listen to you but at the same time willing to let their guard down and walk you down their paths leading to their destination candidly is critical.
- Evaluation – This is one that I believe everyone must do – evaluate by experimenting! Zero in on 3-5 individuals that you think can potentially be your mentor. Setup time with them on a regular basis to understand each of their styles of mentoring, their ideologies etc. This is not a decision you can make overnight but one that will come to you naturally as you spend time with your chosen candidates. You will find one or two who resonate best with you.