Career Mentoring | Mike Gouchie

By: Mike Gouchie  09-12-2011

The importance of mentorship in our lives cannot be overemphasized. From birth man tends to learn by following the guidance and advice of more experience person.  As a little child, you parents and older siblings and people around you were there to guide and advise you so that you will not make mistake in life. This is exactly the task that is accomplished through mentorship. Mentorship is a mutual relationship that exists between the mentor and mentee in which the mentee learn from the experience of the mentor. The mentor is supposed to guide and advise the mentee based on his or her own experience.

We need mentors both in our academic pursuit and also in our professions/career. There is no student who does not need a mentor, no matter how intelligent the student is. In the same manner, there is no career where mentors are not needed. In other words, there is no stage in life that we can say that we do not need somebody to guide and advise us.

The role of a mentor is similar to that of a coach but there is some subtle difference between the two. Sometimes, they can be used interchangeably by some authors. If you have a mentor it is a great opportunity for you to increase the repertoire of your knowledge and experience. Below are some of the ways through which you can make full use of your mentorship.

Goal Oriented

In order for you to make full use of your mentorship, you need to be goal oriented. Try to set goals for yourself. Remember that you are the driver of your own life. So, you should take the position of the driver. The mentor is only there to guide you. But as for deciding on the next step in your career or education, you have the sole responsibility of doing that. The mentor will guide you when you make a mistake. In other words, do not be inactive during the mentorship. Initiates ideas and let your mentor know and then advise you on how to go about it or what to do in order to achieve your aim. If you are inactive you will not be able to reap the fruit of the mentorship. So, you should always have a goal or target to achieve. The mentor’s part is to guide you towards achieving that goal.

Choosing your Mentor

Getting the best mentor is very important. Though you have the responsibility of charting out your career, but you need a good mentor to direct you and help you achieve your goals. You may have good ideas, but you may be misdirected and guided by a mentor making your ideas not to be materialized. The bottom line is that you need a good mentor in order to actualise your dream or to make a good career. Besides, you are supposed to learn from the experience of your mentor. If your mentor has little or no experience you will not be able to learn anything from him. Base on the above, choosing a good mentor is the basic stepping stone to achieving your goals.

Determining the best mentor that will help you achieve your goal is a difficult decision. You need to know what you want to achieve as your first step. Knowing your target will help you to know the qualities your would-be mentor should have. Look for a mentor based on that. You should ask people around you or people who have achieved what you are planning to do to help you choose a mentor. You should also know that a mentor should be well experienced and therefore, you should choose a mentor based on experience. It will be useless choosing a mentor that has no experience in the area you are most interested in.  

Discussing you Goals with your Mentor

In mentorship, there should be a mutual learning relationship between you and your mentor. In order to establish this relationship, you have to first begin by discussing your goal and your expectations with your mentor. The discussion should be predicated on openness and truth. You people should also agree on when and how to communicate with each other. Communication is a very important aspect of mentorship and discussion bothering on that should also be taken very serious. You should not over look that. The discussion should be two ways and not one way. This means that two of you should contribute as well as listen to the other. Everything about how the relationship should move should be discussed. This will help you to avoid any difficulties or confusion in the future. The outcome of the discussion should serve as the contract agreement and should not be bridged. That is the essence of the discussion.

Confidentiality

This is another important aspect of mentorship that should not be neglected. Whatever you discuss with your mentor should only exist between you and him/her. On no account should the mentor reveal it to a third party without your consent. On your own part, you should also keep whatever experiences the mentor share with you secret. You should not reveal his experience to any other person. If there is absolute confidentiality of whatever is discussed between you and your mentor, then there will be openness that engenders mutual sharing of experience and learning. This is one of the things that you should ensure that it exists in your mentorship so that you will be able to make full good use of the mentorship.

Accepting/Giving Feedback

You are supposed to give feedback to your mentor on whatever assignment he or she gives you. But sometimes you can make mistakes in carrying out a function. In such situation do not be afraid to tell your mentor everything that happened. That is the only way he can guide and direct you properly. You should also be ready to accept feedback from your mentor. Sometimes the feedback may not be favorable but you have to accept it and then learn from your mistake.

Mentorship is an act by which an experienced and more knowledgeable person guides and advises a less experienced and less knowledgeable person in his or her field of endeavour. It is a means of helping people to bring out the best in them in their various areas or works of life. It is a mutual relationship between two individuals, namely mentor and the mentee, in which the mentor helps the mentee to acquire more experience and perfect his or her skills in the field of his or her endeavour. The mentor is supposed to be more experienced than the mentee.

Mentorship is predicated on trust between the mentee and the mentor. If there is no trust mentorship will not work out very well. This is because the mentee has to be open to the mentor while sharing his or her experience with the mentor. On the part of the mentor, he or she is supposed to treat everything the mentee tells him or her as highly confidential. It is against the rules of mentorship for a mentor to reveal to a third part what a mentee shares with him or her. Such an act can lead to lack of trust and once there is no trust the relationship will not work out very well.

Qualities of Mentors

There are certain qualities mentors are supposed to have. The absence of these qualities will inhibit the goal and aim of mentorship. One must be experienced and knowledgeable in the field to offer any sort of value to the mentee.

Listening

It is not an exaggeration to say that many people do not listen very well to other people. They tend to talk more and make rash judgement on others. Listening is a very important quality that mentors should try to develop. A mentor who does not listen very well to the mentee will not be able to help the mentee achieve its objective or gain more experience. Besides, there is the possibility of a mentor who does not listen very well misunderstanding the mentee. You can only understand a person when you listen to the person. But if you do not listen to a person you will not be able to understand the person. Mentors should therefore listen to their mentees in order to understand them and share their own experience with them.

Willingness to Share Experiences

Sharing of experience between the mentor and mentee is an essential accept of mentorship. The mentee can only grow in knowledge if the mentee shares his or her own experience with him or her. Sharing of experience is the best way through which the mentees deepen his or her own experience because experience they say is the best teacher. You can learn from the experience of the others. In other words, a mentor is supposed to share all his or her experience with the mentee without hiding anything from the mentee. The sharing of experience with the mentee should be predicated on openness. Nothing should be hidden from the mentee. This will help the mentee to learn faster.

Mentorship is all about mutual learning relationship existing between the mentor and the mentee. If the mutual learning relationship is lacking the aim of the mentorship will not be achieved. This mutual learning friendship between the mentee and mentor engenders trust, openness and willingness of the mentee to open up to the mentor. If the mentee does not see the mentor as a friend to confide in, then he or she will not be able to open to the mentor.

Normally, the position of a mentor in an organization is higher than that of the mentee. They have more working experience and that is why they are able to guide and advise the mentee.  They should not look at them as lower staff rather they should see them as friends. This is the only way they can make themselves approachable to the mentees.

Mentors should be Counselors

One of the best ways of mentoring is counseling. Mentors should try to play the role of counselors to their mentees.  By counseling them, they will be able to guide them in the right track. It is not always easy to counsel somebody because counseling implies that you know what the problem of the other person is. This is why mentors should be knowledgeable and well experienced. That is the only way they can play the role of counselors to their mentee.

Encouragement

It is not unusual to see a mentor scold and shout at the mentee. This should not be the case. A good mentor should rather encourage the mentee. Mentees are not as experience as the mentors and therefore the mentors should not expect them to be perfect at all times. When they make mistakes, the mentors should correct them with love. In difficult moments, mentors should encourage their mentees. It is by encouraging them that mentees will accomplish great task.

Role Models

The mentees tend to imitate their mentors in many aspects. This is why mentors should be role models. They should be able to guide the mentees by showing good examples. What they tell the mentees should be manifested in their own lives.

Qualities

The relationship between a mentor and the mentee should be reciprocal. For the mentorship to work out very well there are certain qualities a mentee should have. A mentee should always respect his or her mentor. Normally, mentors are older in age than mentees and they are also higher in rank in the office. These facts alone are enough for the mentees to respect their mentors. Though there is mutual learning relationship between the mentor and mentee, this should not be abused by the mentees.

The mentee should always be open to the mentor. This is the only way the mentor should know his or her problem and then be able to advise him or her. But if the mentee is not open to his or her mentor there is no way the mentor should advise and guide him.


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