A common concern many people have about mentoring is finding a mentor. This issue may seem irrelevant if you are participating in a company sponsored mentoring initiative where you will be paired up with a mentor or mentee, but the truth is, even if you are “paired” up now, mentoring is something you should do in all areas of your life throughout your entire life. There will be times when you will need to know how to ask someone to mentor you. Finding a mentor is not difficult, however, it does take some intentionality, and yes, you may be turned down, but don’t let apprehensions prevent you from pursuing this learning opportunity. The benefits you will receive are too vast to pass it up.
Here are a 7 simple steps you can follow to help you find a mentor.
1. Decide to be intentional. Don’t just sit back and expect someone to come to you. Choose to put your desire for specific learning into action through the following steps.
- 2. Know your developmental need. In what areas do you want to grow? What do you want to learn? What are some areas of weakness that you would like to address? What strengths do you want to build upon? Do you need skill mentoring or help with character development issues?
- 3. Recognize advantages. Reflect on what the advantages are of having a mentor. There are just certain things that are better learned form another person than from a book or manual (in fact I think most things are!). For instance, if you decide your developmental need is to increase your conflict management skills, then write down a list of advantages for finding someone to mentor you in this area. Maybe you’ll be able to better work with a co-worker that you’ve bumped heads against since the first day she joined your team. Learning to address conflict in a healthy way will calm your temper which will help you think more clearly while you are working throughout the day. This will make you more productive and freed up to do your best work. Listing advantages like these will help motivate you to find the mentor you need.
- 4. Set goals to address the need. For example, If you want to become a better proposal writer, you may want to set goals for learning best practices, increasing your grammatical skill, and understanding customer motivational behavior. Knowing these goals can help you identify people who you can learn these skills from. If you are not quite sure what steps to take to address your developmental need, you still need to be specific in the assistance you are looking for so that the potential mentor can evaluate if they can be of help. Be specific on why you have chosen them in particular to help you. “I have watched you work with those around you showing patience as well as passion for your job. These two qualities will be helpful to me as I work with you to begin discerning what goals to set to address my developmental need.”
- 5. Observe people. Look for someone who would be a good fit for you. Remember the characteristics we discussed in the last module that make an effective mentor. Use this list as a guide. An effective mentor is:
- - Experienced
- - Patient
- - Encouraging
- - Discerning
- - Curious and inquisitive
- Also, Observe what they do specifically that you could learn.
- 6. Connect. Now is the time when you just have to do it. Walk up to them and ask. And, when you approach someone to ask if they’ll be a mentor, be specific! When people know specifically what you want to be trained on, they can better evaluate if they can help.
- 7. Verify duration. Make sure you both understand how long your mentoring relationship will be and that you both can commit to the time.
Now it’s your turn. Write down your plan to address each of these 7 steps. Choose to be intentional today.