So you’re seeking a mentor—either for yourself or for one of your employees. What are the qualities you should look for?

Of course, it depends in part on the reason you are seeking out a mentor in the first place.

  • Do you need mentoring in job skills specific to the industry you work in?
  • Do you need mentoring in universal job skills, applicable in almost any industry?
  • Do you need mentoring in your people skills (e.g. standing up to a difficult boss or dealing with co-workers who try to undermine you)?
  • Do you need to learn to be more aggressive or “sales-y”?
  • Do you need to learn to be more organized?

If your needs are specific to your industry, first and foremost you need a mentor who is conversant with that industry. Otherwise, a mentor whose background lies far afield from the product or service your company deals in may prove to be your ideal choice.

Be sure to select someone who is dedicated and serious about mentoring, someone who will not make you tenth on their list of priorities, someone who will be available within a reasonable time when you need their guidance, advice, or instruction. (But don’t expect your mentor to drop everything every time you call. He or she has not only a personal life but their own work responsibilities, too.)

Choose someone who has a genuine desire to see you learn, grow, improve, and get ahead, and is not in this just for the money (assuming this is a paid mentorship).

Ensure that the mentor you are considering has good communication skills. It does no good for them to have a world of knowledge, wonderful ideas, and great suggestions for how you can improve your work if they cannot convey this knowledge and these ideas and these suggestions to you.

They must be patient. If you make mistakes, fail to grasp a concept, don’t absorb lessons instantaneously, push back against the mentor, or present other obstacles in the relationship, the mentor must not lose his/her temper or patience. A good mentor doesn’t give up on you easily.

A good mentor is a good role model, not a “Do as I say, not as I do” type.

If the mentoring you seek is industry-specific, your mentor should be someone who recognizes that they need to keep learning themselves in order to stay up to date with the latest developments in the field.

Your mentor should be adept at providing constructive feedback. They should be able not only to provide you with how-to advice but critique your efforts in an encouraging way, never disparaging you if you don’t “get” the lesson right away.

To find a good mentor you should visit Bookamentor.com.

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