Having a mentor can be one of the most important aspects of career development, yet most workers say they don’t have one. Staffing firm Accountemps is trying to help them out, with some handy tips on building and maintaining these valuable relationships.
The company recently surveyed company chief financial officers (CFOs), and found that an overwhelming 86% of them believe that having a mentor is somewhat or very important for career development.
However, the same survey found that only 26% of workers have a mentor. The situation is most dire for female workers, only 18% of whom said they have a mentor, as opposed to 33% of male respondents.
Accountemps is offering these five tips for fostering mentor relationships:
- Pick the right mentors. Think about individuals you’d like to emulate. An advisor within the company may be better equipped to help you navigate personalities and politics, while an external mentor can serve as a sounding board and help you stay current on industry trends.
- Follow up regularly. Make it a priority to stay in touch with your mentor at a frequency that works for both of you. Send an occasional email update or ask a question when you run into a challenge.
- Come prepared. Use time with your advisor wisely by setting an agenda in advance of the conversation. What do you want to take away from the meeting? The more specific you can be, the better the outcome.
- Show appreciation. Mentoring requires commitment – make sure you show gratitude. Tell your mentor how his or her guidance has helped you on your career path.
- Identify when it’s time to move on. Busy schedules, changing career paths and major moves could all change the relationship. When you see signs that a mentorship has run its course, it’s okay to part ways. Just don’t sever ties completely – your mentor will always be a valuable contact for you.
The overall theme here is that you need to nurture, build and maintain the relationship. Show respect, and think about what your mentor is looking for in the deal. In the end, you’ll find that these relationships are some of the most rewarding you’ll have in your professional life.
Later on, you can return the favor by mentoring someone yourself.