happy coworkers

Mentoring is a strong method to increase your business acumen.  You’re able to learn from real life experience, develop networking relationships, and see firsthand how someone succeeds.  Hopefully you take good notes, make strong observations of the types of behaviors you buy into and can implement in your home and work life.

For starters, you have to choose the right mentor. It certainly helps if your company has a sanctioned mentoring program, or that they are open to informal mentoring. If not, develop your own – it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone at the same company.  You can certainly learn from someone in another role or business if you and they have the time to set aside to discuss things regularly.  I’ve had some great mentors in my life, ones that I can remember from my teens, college years, and beyond. Some were formal, most were not.

I found through the years that surrounding myself with successful and motivated people, I wanted to be more like them. I worked harder, studied more, earned a graduate degree, and more. It’s not that I wasn’t driven to begin with, but nothing motivates like success.

The advice portion:
1. Whether you’re starting a new job at a new company, or have been there for an extended period of time, choose a strong mentor. It can have great results if you choose to follow up on the lessons you’ll learn. You’ll be a better employee, manager, family member, and more for the effort you put into it.  Plus, you may teach that mentor a thing or two.

2. Don’t let the mentorship get in the way of your core duties. Absolutely make sure that your work is getting done, if not more so.  You’re being paid to do a job – whether its operating a fork lift, or creating marketing materials. Make sure your duties are completed. Your dedication to your high quality and safe work will mean just as much as your interest in career growth.  But, you won’t have much of an opportunity for career growth if you can’t pull your own weight in your own role.

3. Give back. Kind of the pay it forward concept. At some point, offer to take someone under your wing – either offering your skills and expertise to the mentoring program, or just offering tidbits of success to the newer employees coming in the door.

For a different side of mentoring, read the following article by Kimberly Weisul, a blogger for BNet.  Her article on Why Mentoring Helps Men More Than Women, is a nice piece on the benefits of mentoring. There are a couple of nice comments below the article as well.

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