To tackle a delicate phase in your professional career, to take a step back, or to be boosted by the presence of a reference person, you have decided to be accompanied by a mentor. If the role of a good mentor seems clear to you, you are wondering how to choose the right mentor.
Which good mentor should you choose according to your needs? What skills and qualities should you focus on? How do you lay the groundwork for a successful mentoring relationship? Where and how to find your mentor?
How do I find a good mentor?
Before you dive headlong into the search for the perfect mentor, clearly define your needs and expectations.
First, ask yourself why you want a mentor? To step back, to be challenged, to receive an objective external opinion, to be accompanied in the development of new skills and competencies, to benefit from the support of an experienced and benevolent person: all these situations can justify the use of a mentor. It is up to you to qualify your situation to identify the mentor profile best suited to your needs.
Then define the role you want your mentor to play. Is it a work-only mentor, or one who also advises you on a personal level? What type of relationship do you want to have with your mentor? What topics or skills do you want to work on with your mentor? How often do you want to meet with your mentor? For how long? What is the ultimate goal of mentoring?
The more specific your needs, the easier it will be to find the right mentor.
What makes a good mentor?
Here are a few criteria for determining whether or not a person is suitable for the role of mentor.
Objective criteria for choosing a good mentor
To accompany you in a business start-up or an important professional challenge, choose a good mentor with professional experience that inspires you. For example, the mentor may hold a position that you see yourself in a few years. Thus, benefiting from his or her feedback will help you avoid certain mistakes.
Professional experience is also a criterion to take into account when choosing a mentor. Don’t neglect the professional network either: by choosing a mentor in the same industry as you, you could significantly expand your community and open yourself up to new opportunities.
Soft skills: essential for selecting a good mentor
Since the mentoring relationship is based on exchange, sharing, and communication, soft skills play an essential role. The mentor’s interpersonal skills are all the more important since his or her objective is to develop yours.
Among the human skills of a good mentor are:
- Active listening: a good mentor does not try to impose his voice, he listens to guide you on the right path.
- Communication skills: since the mentor is there to accompany you, he or she will have to pass on messages. The way he or she communicates is crucial to ensure that the messages are well received and integrated.
- Kindness: to establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect – essential between the mentor and the mentee – the mentor’s kindness is essential.
- Wisdom: get rid of impulsive and passionate personalities that could make you react disproportionately to certain situations. The mentor’s wisdom invites you to step back and reflect.
- Commitment and availability: being a mentor is not just about giving advice from time to time. The mentor’s commitment to his or her mission allows the relationship of trust to be built gradually. And commitment means dedicated time and availability.
How to define a mentoring relationship to find the right mentor?
In addition to the mentor’s personal qualities and skills, the success of mentoring depends on the quality of your interpersonal relationship.
To choose the right mentor, it is therefore important to assess how the mentor sees his or her own role with you, to define the rules that govern your relationship, and to validate the compatibility of your two personalities.
How does the mentor see his or her mission?
A good mentor is voluntarily involved in the mentoring process and is there to support you in case of doubts or difficulties. He or she must challenge you and open your eyes to all possibilities. He/she must advise you and guide you to find the right answer, without imposing his/her own.
He also gives you feedback in a respectful, benevolent, and equal relationship.
If you find that you have different views about the mentor’s role, he or she may not be a good mentor for you.
How does the mentor set the rules for the relationship?
If no rules are set at the beginning of the mentoring relationship, it is likely that the expected results will not be achieved (especially if you do not know the mentor beforehand).
In order to frame the mentoring relationship, the mentor must define the scope of the intervention, the objectives set and the conditions for carrying out the mentoring.
How do you ensure that a mentor’s personality is compatible with yours?
On paper, the person may be perceived as the ideal mentor. To be sure, try to detect their values and personality.
Where to find a good mentor?
Now that you know exactly what your needs are, what criteria you should use to choose your mentor, and what type of relationship you want to establish with him or her, the next step is to find that rare gem.
Searching for your mentor on the Internet is the most obvious but least qualified solution.
Choose circles of acquaintances, whether professional or private: former managers, personal relationships, alumni associations, retired colleagues, professional social networks, sports clubs.
If you prefer to choose a mentor who doesn’t know you, you can also use intermediaries to get connected and get a mentor recommendation.
How do I approach a mentor and start a mentoring relationship?
Opt for a personalized and well-reasoned approach, by e-mail or telephone: clearly state the purpose of your request (“I would like you to become my mentor”), and put forward arguments that will convince the person by emphasizing the added value that he or she can gain from a mentoring assignment.
Schedule an appointment to meet: this will be an opportunity for you to confirm that the person is a good listener, in phase with your values, available, and ready to commit to a professional coaching relationship.