It’s no simple task to find someone with an ideal mentor traits combination. While you can still access several mentors, you might want to narrow down to a professional with deep expertise in your industry or specific career. To settle for the best, below are the seven things to look for in a mentor.
Relevant Knowledge or Expertise
The mentor you choose must have a relevant background in your field or career. Perhaps with a few levels ahead of you or have been in the industry for some time, but not so much ahead of you that they can’t offer accurate advice or relate to your situation. They should be able to use their past experiences to propel you forward to success. You will need to have some commonality to build a robust and long-lasting professional relationship.
Availability to Devote Time
All mentorship programs, even those from the right mentoring software, require a significant investment of time. You need to look for mentors who are willing to devote sufficient time to guiding and advising you. The best way to determine this is to sit down with a potential mentor to agree on an ideal general meeting timetable. If you realize that the mentor’s schedule is tight, keep searching.
Even though constructive criticism is crucial, you wouldn’t want to deal with mentors who are harsh and disrespectful in their criticism and only make you feel like you know nothing. Such partnerships will definitely frustrate you and make you unproductive.
Some good mentors may unknowingly act in a way that offends you on rare occasions. If they acknowledge their mistakes and authentically apologize, that shouldn’t stop you from working with them.
Resilience and integrity
Look for a mentor who addresses setbacks and difficulties in the workplace. The person should demonstrate resilience by identifying challenges, generating solutions, and strategizing to get through issues. Working with such a mentor will help you learn to be adaptable, which can help you overcome any professional obstacles that might arise.
While respect remains key, you need some tough love to grow. Good mentors provide regular and honest feedback in a constructive, direct, and kind manner. They thoughtfully reflect on your goals and help you to develop a professional development strategy to succeed. Your mentor shouldn’t avoid telling you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings.
Reflective Listening and Empathy
If a mentor is not attentive to your story, the person may steer you in the wrong direction. On top of guiding you, mentors should be curious to know more about you and listen to what you want. They should ask you more questions to understand your beliefs, values, goals, and what you aim to achieve through the mentorship program. Through that, they can tell the best way to help you.
Willingness to Network and Connect
Most helpful mentors build robust professional connections to develop a comprehensive network of experts in all specialties. When looking for a mentor, partner with someone who can link you to relevant experts in your field for further guidance and mentorship. Your mentor should also recommend you to potential employers and clients as you perfect your craft.
For your mentorship to be worthwhile, you must partner with someone who will listen to you and develop a strategy to help you meet your goals. Once you get a mentor with the traits above, work towards building a mutual relationship with them. That way, you can understand each other better as you go through the program.