Are you mentee type?
GETTING ahead and putting in one's best requires an essential prerequisite - knowing the right thing to do or going the right way about it. Each one of us has admired and desired to follow someone who has made it big in our respective professions. These people are our idols. We may have mentors, but they rarely are our idols. Mentor is someone who has made it big but who we may not worship for his achievements. He is someone who inspires awe and trust in him. He is a well-intentioned person who can distance himself from the situation and is willing to give his mentee sound advice. He can cause a change in perspective; he can locate strengths his mentee never knew of. He gives the mentee inputs based on his past experience.
We come across examples of achievers in sports following the footsteps and advice of their mentors. Nevertheless, it's hard to get a mentor, or sound advice for that matter at the workplace. We tend to get lost. There may be many reasons for this. The first being the complexity of issues at workplace; second competitiveness; third, in an organisation that is looking for `a type' of employee, there might be no mentors around; and the fourth reason however could be the employee's traits. Are you `the mentee type'? Can you develop certain traits that will enable you to get help?
Are you open to shared learning?
Most of us are fiercely protective about what we have learned. After all it is a competitive world and nothing comes without hard work. But, if you are looking for a mutually beneficial relationship with the mentor, you have to let him in on what you are doing and what your aims are. If you have had a mentor at school or college, it might come easy to you. But, even if you haven't, you can begin by practicing to share your experience.
Do you respect the confidentiality of the relationship?
Your mentor is sparing time to help you out with your problems and plans. If you jest about his advice or treat it lightly in public, you are severing valuable bonds. You have to prove yourself trustworthy. Analyse yourself as to whether you can live up to this condition or not.
Are you flexible in your approach?
Rigidity will be a big hindrance in any mentor-mentee relationship. You have to keep your biases or views open to change if you want to benefit from mentoring. If you are in the habit of hiding behind your weaknesses, then get ready to change that.
Are you a good listener?
Patience while listening would help you. Some people are averse to being fed a lot of advice. Some others are averse to even a little bit of it. Where are you placed? Can you get through a conversation where you are wording your problems while someone else is considering them?
Are you aware of your development needs?
You need to have clarity regarding your professional needs and plans. It is only then that you can ask for directions if you are at a crossroad. You can't expect your mentor make plans for you. Even if he does it once or twice, this can't continue for long. He has his own plans to follow, remember.
Are you capable of making your own decisions?
Do you blindly follow advice or are you capable of judging what's best for you? Please remember that having an internal locus of control has nothing to do with `not needing a mentor'. An internal locus of control means that provided you are aware of the right actions, you can choose the best one for yourself based on your will to bring about change. Being mentored requires the will to commit. It requires your time and energy to nourish the relationship. You also need to set realistic expectations from your mentor. And forget the blame game. Be ready to take responsibility for your actions. More often than not, it pays.
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