According to Forbes, Steve Jobs had Bill Campbell as a mentor; Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs; Bill Gates had Warren Buffett. Some of the most powerful and successful people in the world had or still have mentors. An estimated 80% of CEOs polled have stated they have had mentors, according to Management Mentors. The power and influence that a mentor has on a professional are important to building success.
Mentors are people within a circle of trust that a person feels comfortable talking to and consulting when they have a problem. A circle of trust is the group of people that you turn to when you seek advice, help or need to talk out an issue. When picking a mentor, typically most people already have one or multiple in mind that is already within their circle of trust. This should be someone that you have an established relationship with and who’s already within the support system. Workplace mentors, according to SuccessFactors, could be anyone from a supervisor, colleague, someone within the organization but outside of the mentee’s chain of command, or even an individual in another organization. Mentors can have positive impacts on their mentees due to their positive role modeling. Employees that have been mentored have been known to have improved career outcomes, employee engagement, employee retention, and employee inclusion.
Success is difficult to achieve without a strong and well-established support system. The best mentors will push a person past their comfort zone, challenge their ideas and serve as a moral compass when needed. They will provide guidance and constructive feedback and help to achieve professional goals. Mentors can also serve as confidantes when a mentee is faced with difficult decisions. Mentors can be valuable resources no matter what size of company. Learn what you are looking for in a mentor. A mentor that is tough on you and pushes you? A mentor that isn’t afraid to tell the truth? A mentor that comes from a similar background? Knowing what you want in a mentor will help solidify the search for a mentor later.
This idea of having a mentor in the workplace or field is growing in popularity, especially among Millennials employees. In another Forbes articles, a study found that millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%). Eighty-one percent of them are happy with their mentor. Finding a mentor isn’t difficult but it may take some time and critical thinking. It could be a boss’ boss with a unique leadership style or it can be a coworker that has a role completely different from yours. Whoever it is, make sure they are relatively accessible and keep in frequent contact with them through face to face contact, email, Skype, etc.
After identifying a few options, reach out to see if they will be an “official” mentor. Most people will be flattered when asked, however, if they happen to say no due to prior commitments or other reasons, thank them for their time and move to the next person on the list. You can never have too many mentors in your network. Mentors benefit individual employees as well as the entire business. 70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years, double the rate for non-mentored small businesses over that same period, according to Inc. With these numbers, it’s easy to see why mentors are growing in popularity across the world.
Scour the network. Narrow down options. Reach out to see if they are willing to be your mentor. The power of having a mentor is unmatched. Build a network, make the connections and find a mentor that can lead you to the success you’ve worked for.