In a previous post we talked extensively about why you would want to have a mentor and only briefly on how to find one. In this next post, we’ll offer four specific steps to help you select and connect with your future mentor.
Join an Internal Mentorship Program – Internal mentorship programs have long been viewed as a way for corporations to train and retain quality employees. As a result, they are a natural place for you to meet and connect with a mentor. While the mentors may not be the most senior person in the organization, they are often people who have the trust of those in senior positions and more importantly, a genuine willingness and enthusiasm to engage in the mentorship role. An internal mentorship program already has the framework established for you to have an open exchange of ideas and to seek support if you need it. If your company has an internal mentorship program, you now have a way of connecting with someone who has the wisdom and know-how to support and nurture your professional potential.
…they are often people who have the trust of those in senior positions and more importantly, a genuine willingness and enthusiasm to engage in the mentor-ship role.
Take advantage of in-house educational opportunities – Some companies offer in-house educational opportunities designed to improve their employees’ skills and productivity. Ernest Cleave, CFO of Cline Mining Corp, a growing mining exploration company, stated that this was the key way he connected with his future mentors. When asked about one of his first jobs at BATA as a Controller, Ernest stated, “At Bata, they had a very comprehensive employee evaluation and as a result they would put you on a company developed mini-MBA program that was meant to evaluate you for an executive track. Through this I gained exposure to senior people in the organization who then helped me develop further into the CFO role.” Does your company offer something similar? If so, this could be your chance to meet and connect with your future mentor.
Through this I gained exposure to senior people in the organization who then helped me develop further into the CFO role.
Volunteer for Projects- Another great way to engage a mentor is to collaborate on a project that is of interest to both parties. A shared goal is a great way to build rapport and develop a deeper relationship. Craig Broughton, the CFO of Bermingham Foundation Solutions identified how volunteering for projects and work no one else wanted to do when he was at Price Waterhouse won the trust and support of his future mentor. “The fact that I was willing to go above and beyond made it easy for her to support me. At Price Waterhouse we were on a deadline and she needed someone to work on a weekend [and do a project that was] real grunt work and I volunteered. It wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t challenging intellectually but it had to be done.” Is there a project that you could collaborate on that might help you connect with a mentor?
The fact that I was willing to go above and beyond made it easy for her to support me.
Over-deliver on Work and Get Noticed – Sometimes it may feel that you are working incredibly long hours and no one is noticing. Not so, said some of the top finance executives we spoke to. In fact, when asked what type of advice he would give to his younger self if he had an opportunity, Craig Broughton had this to say, “Work as hard as you can and if there is something new or strange coming at you, then take it every time. People will notice.” A CFO in a high growth Canadian technology company echoed Broughton’s sentiments, “Deliver for people, because that is what they remember. I really do believe that in the end it comes down to how well you succeed for yourself and those around you.” Once you are noticed, it is a matter of approaching your mentor, asking for help with a specific issue and then building the relationship. If they see potential in you, they are likely going to want to nurture it.
Deliver for people, because that is what they remember. I really do believe that in the end it comes down to how well you succeed for yourself and those around you.
A strong mentoring relationship is built on collaboration and a sharing of ideas and values. Take the time to select the right mentor, use some or all of the approaches above, and it will only be a matter of time before you find that essential person who helps take you to the next level