By Jeanine Banks, CSP, Executive Vice President, Lloyd Staffing
A MENTOR IS A VALUED ASSET TO YOUR CAREER PATH
As this year’s college graduates stream into the workplace, it seems a good time to mention a powerful concept for building a successful career: Getting Mentored
You can gain a mentor at any age, but it’s particularly helpful for entry level employees who can benefit from the experience of a career professional whose work style, knowledge, success and business ethics they respect. Your mentor can be someone you work with or an experienced businessperson in or outside your chosen field. Most importantly, a mentor typically doesn’t find you – you find them.
Your mentor’s expectations are often higher for you than those you set for yourself. They are excellent coaches, someone to share concerns and challenges with, and someone who will help you navigate your goals, leadership growth, a difficult obstacle or even explore the concept and business plan of an entrepreneurial business venture you have been pondering. If you’re embarking on a career, or at any stage throughout, I encourage you to find a mentor. If you are a more “seasoned” professional, think about mentoring a Millennial or GenZ.
To get into the Mentor pipeline, check out your own workplace or networking forums for a role model you relate to. It is also recommended to consider joining a professional association with a mentoring program to help gain objectivity, guidance or a different perspective to consider. Mentor discussions also provide you with a forum for creative brainstorming. Your mentor should be someone you respect as a successful leader or business owner, someone whom you believe has your best interests at heart, has walked the walk and can function as a catalyst to inspire your potential, challenging you to stretch and grow.
THE BASICS TO A MENTORING RELATIONSHIP
If you are ready to be mentored, these guidelines should help get the relationship off to a good start:
- Respect your mentor’s time. Connect regularly by email, phone and in person meetings. Mentoring sessions at Starbucks, via conference call or zoom meetings are perfect forums. Always make a follow-up appointment with your mentor at the end of the session.
- Bring select business questions or situations to discuss with your mentor; then listen to what s/he has to say. Be honest in all interactions, remain objective and open to new ideas, concepts and approaches.
- After the mentoring session, do the homework or task(s) suggested. Think about how the mentor’s recommendations, and what you discussed together, will help you reach your goals or overcome a career or business obstacle and apply it. Be prepared to discuss your results – both successes and disappointments – at the next mentoring session.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate fully in confidence; as mentoring should always be a confidential forum to engage, discuss, ask the tough questions, learn and grow.
- Don’t expect your mentor to solve your problem, but rather help you explore and provide you with various suggested tools to take the next step. A good mentor will listen carefully to you, build confidence in you, enable you to move forward and offer experienced counsel. If you want to truly maximize the relationship, strive to make the connection between what you’ve discussed and how you can apply it to your career and life.
- Don’t be afraid to have more than one mentor. Each mentor brings different experiences and valuable advice. Build a “brain trust” of mentors you esteem and trust.
“From the very start and throughout our careers and business ventures, it’s beneficial to surround ourselves with diversified mentors. I’ve been fortunate to have had many mentors and their influence and guidance to this day has been immeasurable. This personal investment of being mentored results in continued learning, business acumen, expansion of ideas, strategic thinking, connection and a respected go to network. Becoming a mentor is the ultimate experience of giving back. Witnessing a mentees business and personal growth, ability to overcome challenges and meet their desired goals is extremely rewarding.”
MENTORSHIP IN THE COMMUNITY
Recently, in my capacity as a Certified Mentor with SCORE of Palm Beach County (Florida), I presented to FemCity Boca Delray, a forum of prominent entrepreneurial and corporate businesswomen, at First Citizens Bank in Boca Raton, Florida. SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. My topic was “10 Habits of Highly Successful Leaders.” I combined my love of mentoring with another topic I care deeply about – empowering professional women in business. FemCity’s mission is to help women around the world connect, collaborate and collectively succeed in business.
TO LEARN MORE
Jeanine Banks is available to lead online workshops and other speaking engagements on mentoring and topics such as employee engagement, workforce solutions, social responsibility and career empowerment. She may be reached at JLBanks@LloydStaffing.com
or by phone: 954.916.5044. Connect with her on LinkedIn.