Since mentoring is all the rage these days, I have been asked more than once lately for tips on how to choose and work most effectively with a mentor. Here are my 4 top tips:
1. No matter what sort of mentoring relationship you choose, the characteristics you should look for are the same: Your mentor should know how to be a teacher; he or she should be patient and willing to spend the time with you while you learn, whatever your pace may be. Gurus aren’t always good mentors. Someone you admire may not know how to teach what they’ve learned. And you don’t learn by osmosis.
2. When engaging a mentor, it’s important to create a structure for the process, if one doesn’t already exist. Arrange for a monthly breakfast or a weekly phone call — something that you and your mentor can commit to doing.
3. Take an active role. Often people tend to wait for their mentor to take charge, to tell them what to do. But it’s really important for you to take responsibility for the process and be as proactive as possible. You must to be motivated to change and trust that your mentor has your best interests in mind.
4. Think long-term: Give the relationship with your mentor time to develop. Don’t make a snap judgment in what is potentially a long-term relationship.