Monday, December 28, 2009

10 Reasons You Need a Mentor, Especially Mid-Career

Just before the holiday weekend The Glass Hammer – one of my favorite blogs – posted this interesting article explaining why it is important to have a career mentor, even if you have been working in the field for a few years now. As author Andrea explains, mentoring has been associated with higher job satisfaction, higher promotion rates, higher future income, increased work success, and higher retention rates.

1. Perspective and Experience. A mentor can give you the benefit of his or her perspective and experience. He or she can help you assimilate to a new position and give you an insider’s view on how to get things done.

Bayer agrees, “This was the value to me of working with my first real mentor. She knew all about navigating big, traditional companies and how the structure and promotional system works. She helped me build my ‘personal board of directors,’ people who provided support for me, and how to make a ‘dance card’ whenever I was going to a large corporate event of some type (to make sure I had people to try and talk with and know what I was going to talk about). This mentor gave me the help I needed to advance my career significantly, starting that year.”

2. Think Outside the Box. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways. He or she can ask hard questions and help you solve problems.

“This was another critical area for me – my mentors helped me to gain a level of self awareness that I wasn’t getting to on my own. My mentor helped me to learn and use emotional intelligence, even helped me craft exercises and offered practice and reviews, so that I could become proficient in understanding myself, my impact on others, and other people’s emotional being and state, and how to use that to work together better. This was a big ‘growth spurt’ for me, both at work and personally,” Bayer said.

3. Define and Reach Long-Term Goals. A mentor can help you define your career path and ensure that you don’t lose focus and continue down that road even when you become distracted by day-to-day pressures.

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