Can you name a positive role model in your life? Maybe you had a teacher, a parent, or even a best friend who believed in you and encouraged you to keep going even when you failed. Mentors are the people we give credit to for helping us arrive at the place we are today, and they can appear at any stage of our life as they influence our personal and educational growth. Is it time to pay forward and be a workplace mentor to new-staffers or college-age employees?

What role does mentoring play in the workplace?

Being a mentor in a work environment means investing in a colleague to help him or her grow as an employee and as a person. It takes a level of time commitment and confidence in you own expertise to be a mentor, but there are no special qualifications. In fact, the only “requirement” is a desire to be a positive influence in someone else’s life – a desire to help your mentee achieve his or her potential by sharing your experience and putting him or her on the path to success. Your mentee won’t be the only one who benefits from the relationship. As a mentor, you will be challenged to stretch your skills in new ways, build team player skills, and reap the satisfaction of giving back to someone else.

How to Find a Mentee

  • Search across age groups. An article on Forbes.com stated that a mentor relationship does not have to follow the standard older-to-younger formula. Many successful mentorships have passed from younger to older, or even between peers. What’s important is that you are helping one another learn new things and grow as individuals.
  • Dont limit yourself to your workplace or industry. You do not have to mentor someone specifically in your office or career field. Multi-disciplinary mentorships can actually prove even more beneficial as you give and take the perspective of different fields.
  • Seek someone with similar goals. Is there someone in your office looking to achieve similar goals you have or once had? Perhaps someone might be interested in a different area of work, but has aspirations to lead and build their own company. Consider starting an informal discussion over lunch to understand what your colleagues are interested in learning and to foster a supportive group mentorship.
  • Listen to the question-askers. If someone is asking questions often, they are likely seeking guidance for their career-path.
  • Consider your past mentors. What were your needs when they invested in you? What advice did they share? How did it make you feel? Look for similar needs in your network.
  • Look for someone with good character qualities. A good mentee possess promising skills and character attributes. They don’t have to be the “star pupil,” but should possess visible potential that has yet to sculpted. Look for these qualities among your team members, and tell them that you admire them for it.
    • Willingness to work hard
    • Leadership skills
    • Commitment
    • Creative
    • Respectful
    • Teachable
    • Good listener, especially to advice
    • Positive influence on others
    • Seeks new methods or answers to problems
  • Volunteer through business mentoring services such as SCORE or Levo League. Colleges and universities also often have mentorship programs available through their career office.

If you think you know someone who would benefit from a mentorship, invite him or her to have lunch or coffee together. Ask them about their goals, experiences, and struggles. In turn, share your own experiences and how you overcame difficulties along the way. Always offer your advice humbly. Remember that you are not there to provide all the answers, but to be someone to listen and offer another viewpoint.

Whether you have the experience to be a mentor, or are seeking guidance for your career goals, The Lee Group is interested in helping you find the right people or the right place to meet your needs. Contact our professional search and staffing experts today.

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Ellie Howard in the Lee Group Newport News office Tuesday May 31, 2022.