Career mentors: How can you find a mentor and what difference does it make?

24 November, 2016

Mentors are not just a 'nice to have'; they are essential if you want to accelerate your career or the growth of your business. But how can you find and develop great mentoring relationships?

Having a mentor can help your career progressionMentors can make the difference between people who simply advance up the corporate ladder one rung at a time and those who skip rungs.
Studies show that:

- professionals who have used a mentor earn more annually than those who don’t. Among executives interviewed in one study, 75 percent say mentoring has played a key role in their careers. 

- those with mentors have higher job satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

Mentoring myths

  1. Mentors are stepping stones
    It’s important to remember that mentors are not stepping stones they are real people. The relationship is a two-way street - build rapport, align interests, and figure out what you can give to your mentor.
  2. Anybody can mentor you
    What you’re chasing is wisdom, not titles. You must find someone with the relevant skills, but in order to do that, you need to know where you are now and where you want to be. That’s the only way a mentor can effectively help you.

What kind of mentors should you look for?

You may need more than one mentor, depending on your role and industry. There are two types of mentors that would be ideal choice, 'step-ahead' mentors and 'helicopter' mentors.

'Step-ahead' mentors are people who are just one or two steps ahead of you on the career ladder. They can make great mentors as they're people who've likely gone through similar challenges to the ones you are currently experiencing. Step-ahead mentors likely understand the importance of helping out. It also means they may not be so swamped in their business or career that they can't give back.

The other type of mentor you should have in your mentoring network is someone who can take a helicopter view of your business or career. This is someone with a wealth of experience and who can see all the mistakes you’re going to make so much quicker than you can see them because he/she has been through it all.

You need this type of mentor to give you the long-term view. This type of mentor can help you with challenges such as “Here's my career plan for the next 5 years, what do you suggest?”. On the other hand, the ‘step ahead” mentor can help with much shorter-term challenges such as reaching a roadblock when working on a project.

The most important thing to remember about finding a mentor is to find someone you feel comfortable speaking to openly about your career aspirations and goals, and finding someone who shares your leadership values.

If you think you would benefit from the guidance of mentor and are a member with The London Institute of Banking & Finance, then you can get access to our e-mentoring programme. Find out more here and how to register.