Mentoring Fables

06.17.13In the last era, the idea of mentoring has changed. But the need for career counseling has not changed. In reality, mentoring is more important than ever before because many careers have made numerous changes to keep up with a world that is making many changes.

In “Demystifying Mentoring,” a February 2011 Harvard Business Review blog post, Contributing Editor Amy Gallo classifies four common mentoring myths:

Myth #1: Mentoring is a recognized long-term connection. Because the business world moves fast and people recurrently change jobs, a long-term advisory relationship may not be realistic. Mentoring can be a 1-hour session; it doesn’t have to be a 6-month assignment.

Think of mentoring as a tool you can use as needed, instead of focusing on long term.  Advice and guidance may be more significant if they come from someone who knows you and understands your goals. But building relationships that provide connections in areas where you require advice can be very helpful. In some instances, consulting with people who don’t know you as well,  can offer a fresh perspective.

Myth #2: You have to find one flawless mentor. Finding one mentor is actually quite rare these days. Many people who have mentors to get through their careers  have several esteemed advisors. Seeking a variety of perceptions on an important issue may be justified.

Myth #3: Mentoring is for junior-level employees only. Many people believe that  a mentor is necessary only when starting their careers. In reality, professionals at every stage of development can benefit from creating a mentoring relationship. Some find it surprising to find that reverse mentoring is a common occurrence for example, a senior manager learning technology skills of a junior employee.

Myth #4: Skilled professionals mentor out of the goodness of their hearts. Many consider it to be a honor to be asked to mentor someone. The mentoring relationship is about more than respect for a trailblazer. Mentoring should be beneficial to both parties.  What can you offer a potential mentor?

  • You can offer a unique viewpoint on his role in the organization?
  • You can bring valuable outside information that can help your mentor in their job?

Some find it useful to offer your potential mentor a promise of offering their services to them I the future .

Many of the clients that I work with,  have one or two of these misunderstandings about mentoring. Don’t let inaccurate assumptions hold you back from moving forward with mentoring. Don’t assume that the individual that you are thinking of for a mentor won’t be interested.  Ask them and explore the possibilities that are present. The person you ask may have valuable ideas useful for you.

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