The Importance of mentoring
Before one asks what the importance of mentoring is, it is important to first understand what mentoring is. Mentoring is when a more experienced person advises a younger or less experienced person by sharing one’s knowledge and experiences. This is in hopes that the mentee will be better equipped to tackle what life brings and progress in their life to reach their full potential. However, mentoring is not simply being told what path to follow nor is it following in the footsteps of a person that has been where you are at the moment and is now successful. This is simply because every person is different and what worked for another person may not work for you.
Mentoring is important for various reasons. According to the University of Washington, a good mentor is personable and provides feedback, encouragement, has your best interest at heart, fosters a network, and demystifies what may seem as grandiose (UW 2019). This is especially important and academic aspects and in career fields. All in all, it is important to not walk alone especially if there is someone who may be able to guide you.
How to find and work with a mentor
One mentor or a mentoring team? A peer or a faculty member? Essentially, the more mentors one has, the more advice and guidance one can receive. When finding mentors and determining whether a team or a single mentor is more suitable for you, it is important to realize what role each mentor will play in your life. Therefore, it is essential to first build a vision of the type of mentor you need, whether a disciplinary guide, career consultant, or a skills development consultant, as those are the three core roles that mentors play (UW 2019).
There are numerous aspects of finding a good mentor and working with them. First, identify and seek multiple mentors. Next, be proactive: approach your potential mentors and spark conversations. It is crucial that potential mentors see the interest and want to mentor you, which means that you need to be proactive, take initiative and be responsible for building relationships. Show commitment by investing time and being clear and professional in your approaches.
So now you have your mentor, what next? What can your mentors offer?
- Availability: It is important to determine how often your mentors will be available to you and how you will maintain contact.
- Communication: How are you and your mentors going to effectively communicate? Do you feel comfortable with them?
- Workload and financial support: Do they have or know ways to support you?
- Publishing: Are they willing to help you publish your work? What contacts do they have?
- Reputation: This is both with other students and staff as well as within the field
In general, leaders are confident, visionary, possess critical thinking skills, and work towards reaching a goal. A collaborative leader is aware of themselves and others, seeks feedback, and is culturally sensitive.
When it comes to awareness if a leader is not aware of who they are, how can they lead others? On the other hand, if one does not know who they are working with, how can they lead them? It is merely impossible to work effectively as a leader if you are not self-aware and aware of those you are leading. Not only that, but a collaborative leader seeks feedback in order to become better and understand how they are perceived, which fosters growth (Vora 2014). A leader grows to lead people from all walks of life with unique backgrounds. Not only are cultural awareness and sensitivity crucial, but so is emotional intelligence. With these traits, a collaborative leader is able to be personable by building meaningful connections with team members.
How to provide feedback in professional situations
Providing feedback may seem like a dreadful task due to the negative connotation associated with it and the increasing diversity in professional situations. However, nobody is perfect and feedback is essential for growth. Feedback makes relationships more functional and drives productivity. If one truly cares for another, feedback can make the other person feel valued and closer to you, if done correctly (Robin 2013). That brings up a good point, how do you do it right?
- Provide feedback early: In order for the person not to repeat the same thing over and over again.
- Avoid shaming and be generous: Be respectful of others.
- Focus on behavior: Behavior is learned, but personality is not.
- Provide feedback from your aspect: State facts from your point of view. Use first person rather than second person when providing feedback.
- Remember and speak on the other person’s interests: It shows that you care
- Practice: practice makes perfect
- Mix positive and negative: Wrap positive feedback around negative feedback
The increasing diversity in professional situations may cause people to be confused about how to efficiently provide feedback without being offensive to the other party. Some cultures, like the British, use “downgraders” when providing negative feedback in order to soften the situation. Meanwhile, other cultures use “upgraders” (Mayer 2015). All in all, being authentic to oneself while being sensitive to other cultures is ideal.
Mayer, E. (2015, September 16). Giving Negative Feedback Across Cultures [Web Page]. Retrieved from https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/giving-negative-feedback-across-cultures-4259
Robin, C. (2013, November 27). Feedback is a Gift [Web Page]. Retrieved from https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/carole-robin-feedback-gift
UW Graduate School (2019). Mentoring Guides for Students [Web Page]. Retrieved from http://grad.uw.edu/for-students-and-post-docs/core-programs/mentoring/mentoring-guides-for-students/
Vora, T. (2014, May 12). Indispensable Traits of a Collaborative Leader: Part 3 [Web Page]. Retrieved from http://qaspire.com/2014/05/11/indispensable-traits-of-a-collaborative-leader-part-3/