Finding the right people to act as mentors can be a frustrating process if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are, after all, different reasons for needing mentors in the first place. It could be for professional reasons, where you have to start taking on new responsibilities at work. It could be for personal reasons, where you’re trying to find some type of spiritual peace.
But, in any case, the wrong mentor can spell disaster, and the right mentor can make the difference between learning something quickly and deeply, or being confused about what the future holds. Consider these five qualities when thinking about mentorship – process-orientation, flexibility, experience, grit, and goal-orientation.
Mentors don’t have to be agreeable, or have social skills. However, to make the mentoring concept work, they do have to have a process-oriented methodology. There is a goal. There are steps and a process to reach that goal. Each step has details that need to be taken care of. It’s as simple as that. If a mentor can follow a process, then he or she is in a good position to transfer knowledge quickly, efficiently, and professionally.
It’s important that mentors remain flexible. Not every person learns that same, so if a mentor continually pushes everyone that comes under their wing in the same way, there are going to be issues. This doesn’t contradict the process-orientation concept, so much as it notes that mentors should be able to adopt different techniques to move through those concepts accordingly. There’s a massive difference between people who learn primarily through reading, listening, or by hands on. A good mentor will work with those qualities regardless of personal preference.
It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of pure experience in a mentor. Anyone can get assigned to teach someone else a skill. But if that person doesn’t have a deep knowledge of that skill that they’re teaching, it’s going to be a train wreck. This is another time to overlook the ‘agreeable’ personality and instead go for the person with true industry knowledge.
Grit is an indicator of success. Grit, in a mentor, means that they’re going to power through any sort of obstacles and get you the information that you need. There are always problems, and there is always trouble, but grit can obliterate the logistical hurdles that will always come up.
And finally, in addition to process-orientation, a good mentor can also be strictly goal-oriented. If he or she knows what the end goal is, it’s then his or her job to determine the steps required to get there. Whether you’re learning business management or a new language, working backward from a goal is admirable and efficient.