5 Ways a Mentor Can Fast track Your Career

03 February 2017 -


The lessons, connections, and opportunities that mentors provide are invaluable, often accelerating the careers of graduates and young professionals starting out in management

Jermaine Haughton

Fledgling college dropout Mark Zuckerberg sought the guidance of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs. Tennis superstar and reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray turned to past champion Ivan Lendl for ways to improve. Even legendary investor Warren Buffett often recalls how the principles taught by Benjamin Graham led to his fame and success. Across different industries and walks of life, many of the world’s most successive people have had a helping hand by experienced mentors.

A crucial resource for professionals at all levels, mentoring is particularly useful for less experienced individuals, still trying to navigate their way up the career via the most effective route. Despite their enthusiasm and ambition, many career starters are often unsure of the nuances, customs and systems of the working world.

Here are five ways mentoring can boost your career:

1 .Build Your Networking Potential

In the business world, who you know can often be as important as what you know. One of the first pieces of advice many graduates receive upon leaving university is to ‘network, network and network’. Having a mentor can only help in this regard.

By finding an experienced senior mentor, ideally at the executive level with a strong track record, individuals will likely increase their chances of meeting and greeting other key and influential figures associated with your mentor.

People will hold you in higher regard simply by associating with these high-calibre individuals.

When visible and influential members see that you are proactively seeking these mentors' advice and guidance, this increases your chances of securing coveted positions and opportunities within the company.

2. Opportunity to Gain Valuable Feedback

One of the great benefits of having a mentor is the chance to gain advice and wisdom on how best to prepare yourself for your dream job. Your mentor is likely to have at least a decade of experience working in a constantly changing working environment, and many of the queries, issues and worries you face, they have also experienced. Thus, by answering your career questions, mentors can help prepare, calm and brace you for the challenges ahead.

Great coaches and mentors excel at asking questions, specifically the types of questions that lead you to reflect on your performance, behavior, and goals-- to learn from your mistakes and successes.

They don’t tell you what to do, instead they use questions to teach you how to reflect constructively on your own. What feels like a big deal initially, may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

It’s important to know what to sweat and what to forget, when it's okay to let something roll off your back and when you should stop and reflect more deeply.  

Mentoring helps you realign your objectives with the current situation, to see the smoothest, most fluid path forward in a way that is authentic to who you are.

3. Improve Your Understanding of Workplace Politics

Where there are people, there is usually politics, and many offices are no different. For young, less experienced individual, mentors can prove crucial in teaching mentees about how different organisations’ cultures work, and the unspoken rules that can be critical for success.

You may be confronted by a maverick colleague, a lazy team mate or a moody manager at some point in your career, and having advice on how to deal with potentially awkward and uncomfortable situations can accelerate the pace at which you adapt to your organisation's culture.

Understanding organisational politics and dealing with difficult (or dysfunctional) people, takes experience and wisdom. Your mentors may be able to provide you with effective (and often sensitive) strategies on dealing with these people.

4. Find Career Opportunities and Expand Your Network

Mentors can help alert you of career opportunities or evaluate job offers you have received. Top managers and executives are often very aware of vacancies in their company or industry, as well as what type of skills and competencies the employers require.

Applying for roles can be stressful, tiring and filled with uncertainty and self-doubt. However, the assistance of an experienced manager can help by forwarding you career opportunities based on your skill sets and professional goals.

Often, job vacancies are discussed widely by recruiters and their networks before being posted publicly. Your well-connected mentor may be able to offer a referral or introduction which could be the most effective way of getting in the door.

Similarly, mentors can help you assess whether to accept or reject a job offer. Sometimes it’s hard to see all the ramifications of taking a particular job—both for short-term fit and also for its long term strategic value.

A mentor can help you see all angles.

5. Someone to have a tea or coffee with!

The chance to have a positive and constructive conversation with someone who is willing to listen is typically understated, but nonetheless important. Whether you are starting your career or already at the top, you will make mistakes and, at some point, feel under pressure to perform.

Therefore, it’s important to have an independent person, outside of your department or company, who can highlight your successes, give you a shot of confidence and reassure you that you’re on the right path.

Find out more about mentoring: www.managers.org.uk/mentoring

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