I am a firm believer in mentoring—whether it’s for spirituality, lifestyle, parenting or business. I have been supported by mentors throughout my life, and I have valued each mentor’s input and expertise. As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, I feel mentoring is something we all can do and benefit from—no matter what out age or avocation in life.
I found a straightforward article on mentoring by Amy Gallo on the Harvard Business Review website. Amy talked with Kathy Kram, author of Mentoring at Work; and Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, for the piece. I’ve put together some mentoring dos and don’ts, extracted from Amy’s article. I hope these mentoring tips will give you food for thought:
- Do build a network of people you can count on
Amy uses an example of a woman at a crossroads in her career. Rather than make a critical decision on her own, she asked three different advisors for their opinions. I agree that building a network of advisors as you progress in your career is essential.
- Do consider mentoring as both a short-term and long-term relationship
Rather than focus only on relationships that span several months or years, consider people you may know only on a superficial basis but whom you admire. These may be people you can ask for “advice” rather than ask them to commit to being a mentor.
- Do consider using multiple mentors
To most women, this isn’t a novel concept. As women, I think we naturally gravitate to our wiser, more experienced circle of friends for advice on balancing work and our personal life, parenting, childcare, health and fitness and more. We can take this idea of multiple advisors and apply it to our careers as well.
- Do be willing to accept mentoring (even when you think you don’t need it)
You may think you have it all figured out, but I think most of us could benefit from some sage career advice now and then as we go through transitions and career changes. Other points of view can help solidify your own ideas, too.
- Don’t look for one perfect mentor
I can say I’ve depended on many mentors over the years to guide me through work and life issues. Kathy notes that it can be helpful to have several perspectives on a particular issue to help you make a decision.
- Don’t assume a mentor is a mentor for life
In today’s fast-lane lifestyle, your mentors might change as quickly as you change careers! According to Jeanne, in today’s world, mentoring can sometimes resemble Twitter and less like a formal coaching relationship.
- Don’t think you are too experienced to be mentored
As we change careers and our focus, we’ll need mentors for different stages of our lives. Even with 20 years of business experience, I’d welcome having a mentor give me sage advice from time to time.
- Don’t expect to receive mentoring without offering anything in return
Your mentors may want to help but giving them a reason could help seal the deal. Even the promise of future help to your mentor, says Amy, may be enough to convince him/her to offer to be your mentor.
Mentors today can be just about anyone you look up to, or admire. Look around you, think about the people whose opinions matter, and consider getting another viewpoint. It could open you up to a whole new avenue you never considered before.