Having all of your dominoes in a row as soon as you land a new position is ideal, but the real world doesn’t work that way. To continue on your trajectory toward achieving extraordinary results in the workplace, you’ll often have to think outside the box. This even applies to finding mentors that can help you navigate the career path to your dream job.
Many of us turn to a manager for mentorship, but that isn’t your only resource at work. Chances are you’re surrounded by lots of professional people every day. Cultivating relationships with a wide variety of professionals who fit your career mentoring criteria will often yield better results than relying on a single mentor.
You may be surprised how many mentors –for various parts of your life – work on the same floor or even in the cube next door. Let’s explore your options!
Why Bosses Don’t Always Make the Best Mentors
Your boss or manager is a natural person to turn to for job-mentoring. However, they aren’t always the best option. There are many reasons why bosses aren’t necessarily the mentor of choice.
- Not all bosses are good communicators, which is a must for mentorship.
- Some bosses don’t have the time or focus for mentoring.
- There are bosses that fear having their employees surpass them in the workplace, and that mentality isn’t conducive for mentoring.
- Your boss may not have the career you want, especially if your ideal job is in another industry.
- You may not have a strong personal relationship with your boss, or on the flip side, they may not want people thinking they are showing you favoritism.
- Being a boss and a mentor at the same time can complicate things at work.
Even if your boss is a good mentor candidate they may not have all the qualities and expertise needed for you to meet your career goals.
Identifying the Different Types of Mentors You Need
Finding everything you need in one mentor is an amazing feat that’s very hard to achieve. The more effective solution could be seeking out numerous mentors that can help you with specific aspects of your career. This requires that you first know what your end goals are and what assistance you need in order to achieve them. You’ll then want to identify the particular mentor characteristics you’re looking for, which can be general or specific to a certain need.
The Peer Mentor
This is a person that you can identify with because you’re both share the same professional level. Not only are they good as a support system, a peer mentor is also particularly valuable when you’re trying to break into a new field or job role that they currently work in. As you move up in your career there’s a good chance your peer mentor will change.
The Education Mentor
What do you need to learn, or what type of education do you need to obtain, to land your ideal job? An educational mentor is one that can provide guidance on gaining understanding in a subject. Co-workers that have previously served as professors or teachers in the past are a wonderful resource, but people that actively participate in seminars, conferences and job training can be even more helpful.
The Networking Mentor
Networking is a part of professionalism that comes naturally to some and is a source of anxiety for others. You can’t get to where you want to be professionally on your own. A networking mentor is a person that’s great at making and cultivating relationships. They’ll have a huge network of their own that you can tap into, and they’ll help you build your personal contact list. The social butterfly of your office that always seems to have a connection is usually a good candidate for this mentoring role, especially if they are successful in your industry. However, they should have a good reputation of not a gossiping, creating drama or taking advantage of the people they know.
The Work-life Balance Mentor
Your job is important, but it should never overshadow your life. People that can provide guidance on juggling the two are usually easy to spot. They aren’t workaholics that never leave the office. They usually have mementos of family and friends at their desk. They take vacations and have a healthy social life while being a standout employee. A work-life balance mentor helps you find ways to prioritize and focus on your occupational ONE Thing in the office so you don’t take your work home with you.
The Expertise Mentor
Do you know someone that has or had the job you want? There’s no better person to turn to than someone who’s actually done the work you want to do. An expertise mentor can give insider advice on how they got to where they are, what to expect when you get there and the skills you need to master to excel. It’s best to make sure they’re not someone in direct competition for the job you want or that already holds the position you’d love to have. Instead, look for someone in a similar position in another department, or look for someone that’s held the position in the past who has moved up the ladder.
Having more than one mentor not only ensures that you will cover all of your bases, it also gives you multiple points of view to pull from, and it doesn’t put all the mentoring on the shoulders of a single person. By splitting up mentor responsibilities, the pool of candidates will increase and you’ll be in a better position to find people who can help you hit both your short-term and long-term career goals.