Millennial expectations of mentorship are often misguided. If you want a mentor, you have to seek one out. However, with the rise of online communities and digital technologies, getting access to the right information often gained from mentors has changed. You can’t ask mentors the generalized questions you can search online — you need to be concise, deliberate and proactive.
The workplace is changing fast and along with it, the norms of mentoring are changing as well. For instance, mentors provide strategies and advice that were helpful to their careers. This can be a very positive trait, but at the same time, it can cause some challenges since the career paths, timelines, and workplaces of Millennials are changing much more rapidly.
With that in mind, here are seven tips to help you find and learn from a mentor in today’s fast-paced digital age:
Age doesn’t matter.
A mentor doesn’t have to be much older to be wiser. Sometimes mentors are younger, sometimes they are older. Great mentors have connections, a questioning mind and desire to help others in a collaborative way.
Be a mentor to find a mentor.
At an event I attended with Pat Mitchell, CEO of Paley Center of Media, her guiding words were, “Be a mentor.” We often learn so much more about ourselves when we are mentors to others.
Focus on specific mentorship needs.
If you really want a mentor focus on the change you want to make and how to get there. If a mentoring relationship isn’t serving you, don’t gossip about it or waste your time. We need leaders to support each other first and foremost.
Don’t always agree with your mentor.
Just because your mentor says something doesn’t mean it’s right or true. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s research, it is not uncommon for a mentor to want to keep mentees subordinate. Learn how to decipher feedback and determine what really makes sense for you and your goals.
Build a co-mentor relationship.
The idea of co-mentoring is a term used by many leading organizations with an understanding that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have just as much to learn from Gen Yers and vice versa. We live in a completely different world today, and we must take that to heart. Recognize your value in the mentoring relationship.
Distinguish between offline and online mentors.
E-mentors are emerging in addition to offline mentors. Remember that e-mentors may not respond to a Twitter or email in your first try. Get an introduction, go hear them speak at an event, or find a way to feature them on your personal blog or otherwise support their work before asking them to support yours.
Make sure your work is noticed by your mentor.
Don’t expect a potential mentor to know what you’ve accomplished. It’s your job to make sure you actually get credit for the work you do. Good work alone won’t suffice — making sure your work is heard and noticed will make all the difference.
Erica Dhawan is a globally recognized leadership expert, keynote speaker, and corporate consultant teaching companies specific strategies to unleash performance across teams, such as alignment, multi-generational engagement, & innovation. Connect with Erica on Twitter and Facebook.
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