No matter where you are in your career, it can help to speak to someone who’s been there, done that and now has the T-shirt.
That’s why finding a mentor can be so invaluable. Whether you want to talk through an issue affecting your team, seek guidance on how to get promoted to the next stage or just find out how to be more efficient in your current role, he or she can help you navigate your way through, passing on confidential advice and insightful knowledge gained by their own years of experience.
Mentoring is like career coaching, except you don’t pay for it. Rather than receiving money, the mentor gets the satisfaction that they’re helping someone.
Perhaps there’s a mentoring system in your workplace. If there isn’t you could find someone yourself, whether they work for your company or not.
Although you might feel embarrassed to ask someone to be your mentor, it’s worth it for the benefits it can bring. And whoever you choose, it’s vital you look up to them and can trust their advice. You needn’t put a formal system in place - perhaps meeting up for a coffee once a month, or whatever suits you both.
Here are a few reasons to bite the bullet and get a mentor in your work life…
You probably know what you’re good at, or at least the parts of your job that come easily to you.
As they have an outside perspective, a mentor can help you develop strengths further. They could also spot personal attributes that aren’t particular strengths at the moment, but properly harnessed could help you climb the next rung of the career ladder in the future.
No one’s perfect at work. Perhaps you find it hard to delegate, or asserting yourself in meetings doesn’t come naturally. A mentor can talk you through your weaker points, and show you steps to take to minimise them.
Equally, you might hesitate to talk about your shortcomings with your manager. What if you drew attention to things they hadn’t noticed before, and it affected their professional view of you?
But meeting with a mentor - particularly someone who’s not employed at your company - gives you a safe zone to talk more freely without the worry that it might dent your career prospects.
If you’re lucky, your workplace is somewhere you feel you’re often learning from others around you. After all, at HR GO we know that the companies who keep their star players for longest are the ones who prioritise an open learning culture.
But meeting a mentor who works outside your department - or even in another company - can give you an outside perspective on issues. Even learning about your mentor’s career journey can be invaluable, and show you insider tricks to emulate their success.
Is a particular issue bothering you at work? There’s huge value in getting a fresh pair of eyes on a situation. Because a mentor probably won’t be directly involved in your day-to-day responsibilities, they’re perfectly placed to give a different perspective on something you’re struggling with.
Of course, you shouldn’t discuss confidential or commercially-sensitive issues with them, but their impartiality means they can give you honest advice - or just be a sounding board to help you come up with your own course of action.
Performing well at your current role is important. But so is having one eye on your next move. And while nurturing a relationship with a mentor brings all sorts of positives for your personal growth, it’ll also show your boss that you take your career development seriously.
In a crowded workplace, this is another way to mark yourself out as an employee to watch - and keep.