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A good mentor can make all the difference to your corporate wellness, but a bad one, or a bad mentor-mentee relationship, can make your career or business take a turn for the worse. So how do you find the right mentor, and cultivate a relationship that really works?
Firstly, think about what it is you need mentoring on before you pick the person you want to work with. If you want to learn how to build and execute a great marketing strategy, you probably won’t manage it with a financial executive for a mentor. However, once you’ve got your goals and mentor in place, you need to continually work and study to solidify their guidance. Your mentor will only want to help you if you’re willing to learn and grow quickly, so you need to ditch the excuses and make an honest effort to understand and implement action items.
Also, remember that no one wants to help someone who bothers them all the time. If you’ve got yourself a good mentor, chances are that he or she is a very busy person and so may be opposed to someone trying to take up a lot of their time. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself by constantly bombarding them with emails. Instead, ask for small, focused blocks of time, even if it’s only ten minutes in private, and come prepared with real issues to discuss so you don’t waste a second of it.
During this ten-minute session, it’s up to you to lead the discussion. You should be setting the agenda and driving for specific insights, rather than expecting your mentor to provide critical feedback on general actions taken or missed. However, never forget to press your mentor for broader or related implications. Also, make sure you know the difference between a mentor, a friend, and a coach. A friend will tell you what you want to hear, while a business coach’s focus will be on helping you with generic skills. A mentor, on the other hand, will tell you what you need to hear, and teach you based on specific situations.