How to pick the right mentor for your career
In today’s highly competitive business world, having a mentor who has your best interests in mind can help you to shape your professional growth and career path. To ensure Malaysia’s future growth, a newly launched initiative, Malaysia Global Talent Programme, aims to mentor young talent and nurture up to 5,500 global Malaysian leaders by 2022.
Mentors are truly one of the most valuable resources for guidance, support, feedback and insights, but how does one choose the right mentor? Here are some questions to keep in mind when making your pick.
What are you looking for?
What skills do you want to develop and where do you see yourself going in your career? Start with this basic question and be honest in evaluating your professional abilities, including those you lack.
Before choosing the right mentor, you need to know who you are, where you want to be, and what your priorities are. Once you are clear on your needs, you will be able to make informed decisions on who your mentor should be.
Do your values match?
If the person you choose to coach you has a fundamentally different perspective on life and career, you might find it hard to connect. It’s even more challenging and uncomfortable to open up to someone who you don’t share a certain set of values with.
As mentoring is a two-way street, both you and your mentor need to make an effort to create a connection. Your coach has to be able to relate to you on a personal level. If you’re unable to bond, you’re unlikely to get much of the mentorship.
Do you need more than one mentor?
As mentors are individuals you look up to and aspire to be, finding people who champion the abilities and skills you wish to develop is crucial. However, no one can guide you in all aspects of your life. Your job as a mentee is to identify the areas you want to improve on – and it’s okay if you need to seek out different mentors for each area.
As your capabilities change throughout your career, mentorship does as well. The mentor at the beginning of your career does not necessarily need be the same one you started with.
Are they a good listener?
Look for a mentor who can truly help you develop and learn, rather than someone who spoon-feeds you answers and opinions. You want someone who listens, shows empathy and helps you overcome challenges without being in the driver seat.
Ultimately, you want to look for someone who gives you a reality check – even if it hurts – because to progress in your career, you need the occasional nudge. Your mentor should not be afraid to let you learn from failures, but they should equally be able to pull you back when you are about to go overboard.