Why is mentoring important?
Mentorship is an important piece of personal and professional development, and offers students a new perspective or understanding of a topic. A mentor helps the mentee feel supported through new experiences, and can even help enhance such experiences. The feedback that mentors provide to their mentees is valuable not only to help refine technical expertise, but also trains the mentee to receive constructive criticism in a positive light. Further, such a relationship also allows the mentee to observe the mentor conducts himself or herself in a professional setting. Another important aspect of mentorship is having a reputable professional to use for recommendations; mentorship establishes a relationship that allows the mentor to speak to the mentee’s credibility and strengths.
How do you find a mentor and work with them?
A mentor is not a one-size-fits all position. In fact, everyone likely looks for different traits in a mentor. In fact, a student may choose to have more than one mentor to fulfill multiple mentorship needs. For example, you may choose a professor in your discipline to guide you through coursework and career development, but you may turn to a professional counselor for emotional support.
The process of finding a mentor should be driven by the mentee’s personal and professional goals. These goals can be identified by asking questions like: “What is my desired skillset?” or “What are my academic strengths and weaknesses?” Once a mentor has been identified, the student can work with their mentor to further refine their goals. Then, a work plan can be created to achieve the stated goals. Setting up a regular meeting will be key in the mentorship process, as it sets a routine and helps to enforce deadlines. Both the mentee and mentor are responsible for meeting set expectations (defined within the mentorship or by the school/organization). If either person feels that expectations are not being met, they may need to consider revisit the primary goals and intentions of the relationship, or even termination of the mentorship.
Why are leadership traits important?
Leadership traits, like self-awareness and awareness of others, contribute greatly to a person’s professional development. Awareness of one’s self and others around them is crucial to understanding their own weaknesses as well as those of the team. Understanding the team’s strengths and weaknesses allows for the creation of strategic work plans, and therefore, a stronger overall work outcome.
Leadership traits demonstrate that you are a well-rounded professional and are able to navigate difficult situations with rationale and ease. They also foster harmonious and productive work environments. For example, if a supervisor conveys criticism of a report in a positive and encouraging manner, the employee will likely feel respected and empowered to continue refining the report. Further, those that lead by example (putting leadership skills into practice) will facilitate such behavior throughout all levels within a company.
How should you provide feedback in professional situations?
Providing feedback in a professional situation can be difficult for two main reasons – approach to the conversation and cultural differences. Remedying each requires sensitivity and understanding. Some of the key principles of providing professional feedback include providing feedback early on, avoiding shaming, and framing the feedback around behavior rather than personality. Understanding different culture’s approach to providing feedback is important, especially for those who regularly work with individuals from other cultures. In addition to reading up on different professional customs, being aware of the words and phrases used and mixing positive and negative feedback together are also important pieces of the puzzle. The more you practice giving feedback in this manner, it becomes easier and more natural over time.