February 2, 2020

What To Look For In A Mentor

In the final blog in the three-part series exploring mentoring, this blog explores what to look for in a business/corporate mentor.  We explored the differences in coaching and mentoring in Part 1.  We examined the benefits and best practices to guide the establishment of a mentorship program in Part 2.  This blog may help you recognize the actions and characteristics to look for in a great mentor.

The relationship you have with your mentor is important.  The way a mentor and a mentee interact needs to be collegial but challenging.  A great mentor’s values and philosophies will align with yours while helping shape new ways to view business/careers goals.  Below are 3 ideas to think about when considering the selection of a mentor.


The most important aspects of a mentor and mentee relationship is fit or compatibility.  When considering a mentor, ask yourself if this person’s values and philosophical approach matches with your own or your company’s goals.  A solid mentoring program is a long-term relationship.  Don’t discount a relationship that gets off to a rocky start.  Both parties need time to figure one another out.  However, if the relationship fails to grow or you recognize incompatibility, it is okay to end the relationship.  If the mentor was assigned by the organization, explain why the relationship is unsuccessful and explore the programs options for a new mentor.  Remember, career goals change but the similar intrinsic values held by you and your mentor are the fortifying base of the relationship.


While a best practice for this relationship is compatibility, it is also important that a mentor views the world through a different lens than a mentee.  A contrasting viewpoint provides new perspective.  A great mentor is not afraid to challenge the mentee’s view of the world and a good mentee is open to accepting constructive criticism.  Differing viewpoints isn’t about right and wrong or opinions.  They are about challenging each other to be more reflective, more willing to explore areas of opportunity. This process can be difficult as it can touch on areas of the ego that may have never been explored.  The website Ladders offers an article on how to better handle tough criticism.


Let’s assume that everyone knows how to write an email, use a telephone, and send a fax.  However, does your mentor know how to breakdown organizational or industry jargon?  A great mentor will be able to effectively communicate knowledge and skills.  They will also have the ability to help adapt information to your particular learning style.  They will also have the ability to adjust their level of communication in an effort to not overwhelm the mentee or not to seem disinterested in the relationship.  The communication aspect of this relationship also requires the mentee to have the ability to communicate their understanding or challenges in grasping concepts.

As you dive into 2020, let us know what your New Year goals are and how we can help.

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