Top Tips For Choosing a Mentor

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9 months ago by Sophie Stones

Top Tips For Choosing a Mentor

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A PGi Study has found that 75% of the millennial generation think having a mentor is crucial to their success and businesses aren’t ignoring the stats. With more and more companies recognising that in order to show commitment to the growth of their people, they must invest in mentoring schemes, the majority of us can expect to be paired up sometime over our career. However, not all pairings are beneficial and not all schemes can be relied upon. So, to avoid becoming over-saturated or underwhelmed by your choices, we’ve compiled some top tips for finding that perfect match.

Utilise Technology

Don’t be afraid to use tech in order to find your perfect match, as when it comes to mentoring it can have a much higher success rate than the forgotten Tinder app on your phone. Ellen, a NextPlay AI system, which like its namesake is dedicated to helping others, has been dubbed as “the next breakthrough in HR technology and AI for the enterprise”. The system, which matches one persons strengths with another’s weaknesses, was beta tested by transport company, Lyft and after 6 months 218% of users claimed they had more clarity towards their career path, whilst 178% felt more equipped to achieve their goals within the company, proving the true benefits of a mentoring system. 

Be a chatterbox

When it comes to mentoring, it should be a conversation not a lecture. Try to pair up with somebody who is interested in what you have to say too and not just in telling you their own life story. Often these are people with no or very few existing mentoring commitments. If you’re lucky, they may even find you, with Sheryl Sandberg saying, “it’s not find a mentor and you’ll do well, it’s do well and a mentor will find you”.

Pair your Personality

Pick a personality you want to emulate, not one you already mirror. There's no use picking somebody with a shy personality if your aim is to gain more confidence. However, it is essential that your key values are reflected. If you value work-life balance but they're a workaholic, it could cause tension down the line. 

Ignore Appearances

In our own offices, our Learning & Development team have recognised that appearances aren’t everything. Whilst studies show we’re more likely to pair up with someone who is the same gender as us, who often looks similar to ourselves and who is slightly older, these unconscious biases are doing us no favours. Having a dedicated mentor scheme which relies on questionnaires and an understanding of both mentor and mentee, our mentor leader Sophie has been able to ensure we’re paired up with those who can truly help.

“To match our mentees with their mentors we used a combination of what they each told us they were looking for, the challenges and successes each have in their markets, input from our senior leaders and what we know about their personalities. We were able to take a holistic overview to match our people with others that they may never have thought of to connect with before!” – Sophie Officer-Thorley, Learning & Development Consultant, Goodman Masson

Trust

71% of Fortune 500 companies now offer mentorship programs. These programs however, vary as much as their companies do and whilst the majority attempt to pair people within the company, there are those venturing further out. With the risk of a colleague within the company having a biased view-point, there’s been a recent rise in businesses offering their own contacts outside of the inner circle, as impartial advisors. Offering cross-industry advice, having a mentor from another business helps employees to feel out the right path for them, without feeling that the scheme has an ulterior motive. You have to be able to share the highs and the lows of your career with confidence, meaning that choosing someone who is best friends with your Manager is only going to cause paranoia. If this seems too close to home for you, schemes like Career Nuggets can help you find someone outside of your friendship circle.

Whether we choose to find our mentor or mentee in the office next to us or five miles down the road, the positives that come with mentoring are clear. With a Wharton study finding that people who mentor are 6 times more likes to be promoted, whilst their mentees are 5 times more likely to go up the ladder, and companies that employ these schemes? Their retention of both is 20% higher within 5 years.