What makes a good mentor? Knowing the answer to this question will help you find an effective mentor and will help form the relationship you have with your mentor.
Here are some questions to help you decide if your mentor is a good fit:
1. Does your mentor give you advice that motivates you?
If your mentor consistently gives you advice that you don’t agree with or that doesn’t motivate you, it may not be the right fit.
2. Does your mentor challenge you?
Does your mentor make you want to be better? Does he/she give you advice that you don’t want to hear, but know you need to hear? If they are, they are a good mentor.
For years, my mentor has been telling me to pursue a graduate degree. I knew it was something I needed to do, but wasn’t ready to take her advice. Now, I know the timing is right and that she was correct in challenging me to think about this obvious next step in my life.
3. Do you enjoy the time with your mentor?
If you dread meeting your mentor, or don’t set up meetings because you don’t want to, you may not have the right mentor. You should always look forward to the time you have with your mentor.
Even the times filled with difficult, but helpful information should be something you welcome. If you don’t enjoy the time, your mentor probably doesn’t either which won’t make for a successful meeting.
4. Does your mentor inspire you?
A good mentor will create an excitement in you to follow your path or try something new. You want a mentor who will inspire you to be better and try harder.
5. Does your mentor have the kind of life you aspire to?
When thinking of a mentor, it is best to have someone who has the kind of life you want. Hopefully, they will have gone through things that you will deal with and will be able to save you from some mistakes. If possible, choose someone who is a bit older than you so that they can share their wisdom with you.
Asking yourself these five questions will help you establish if you and your mentor are a good fit for each other.
What should a mentor do?
In addition to motivating, challenging and inspiring you, here are some additional things a mentor should do for you. Time.com says your mentors should do three things:
- They give career advice. Your mentor should give you career advice and answer questions you have about your career. Ask them difficult questions; don’t spend your time asking them questions you already know the answer to.
- They provide much needed emotional support when times get tough.
- They act as a role model, giving you something to emulate and aspire to.
Knowing what makes a good mentor and what your mentor should do will help you when asking a mentor. Only ask a mentor who will push you to be a better employee and person. Think of someone you have an existing relationship with, or someone who you are connected to. It is not a great idea to ask someone you don’t know and have no connection with to be your mentor; it doesn’t make sense for either of you.
Check out this Time.com article to help you craft an email to a potential mentor.
What happens if you have a mentor who isn’t a good fit?
Talk with them and be honest. Tell them what you think isn’t working and where the void is. If they can, they will try to better meet your needs. If they can’t, you may want to go back to having them as a professional contact as opposed to a formal mentor. It will save your time and theirs, but honesty and openness is key in getting this conversation right. You have to be thoughtful during the conversation to make sure you don’t burn a bridge.
If you have a mentor already, evaluate your relationship to make sure it is a good fit and to make sure you are effectively utilizing their time. If you don’t have a mentor, find one! Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be discouraged if you hear no. Take ownership of your career success by seeking out someone who can help.