18th February 2014
While there are many types of mentoring, such as personal and community, let’s concentrate on career and business for this post. A mentor/mentee relationship is like a marriage; it takes an investment of time and is something not to be taken lightly. The result is it can last a lifetime and the benefits can be enlightening.
Don’t have just one mentor. This can lead to only one point-of-view and leave you with a narrow focus on the challenge. By having several mentors from different backgrounds and experiences, it will give you a wider view of the situation. Looking at it from different angles will allow you to make a more informed decision. While having several perspectives may seem confusing at times, it also allows you to choose the best road for you creating more confidence in the direction you choose and helping to reduce your stress.
When choosing a mentor, ask yourself:
- What you want to achieve from this relationship?
- What are the boundaries of the relationship?
- What direction is your company going to go?
Seek mentors that have experience in your sector and the direction you want to go as their past experience and network can help you get to your ideal place quicker.
When interacting with your mentors, remember to be honest and be yourself. What is spoken at a mentor session should be kept confidential and not shared with others. Seek their insights!
For the mentor it’s important to realize your role of guiding, protecting and promoting the mentee. On a company level, know where the line is and do not become a shadow director within the company. Remember, the final decision is with the founders or directors of the company.
As a company grows, it can require different skills and knowledge. While some mentors might have specific skills and knowledge, keep in mind that as you or a company grows it might mean that their knowledge is no-longer needed and new mentors are required. Acknowledge the fact that these mentors have helped you achieve your goals in taking you or your company to a new place.
Personally, I have four mentors and it has taken me six years to find them. Their backgrounds are diverse, which allows me to view situations from many different perspectives. They have guided me through some of the toughest times I have encountered and I’m happy to say that some of these mentors have become good friends.
Here at Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) I plan to create a business accelerator that provides a large mentor pool. These mentors will have diverse backgrounds and provide expertise to individuals and companies that are involved with the NIC Business Accelerator. Interested? Check out http://innovate.unl.edu/nic-resources
P.S. Thank you to Alex Russell for the water painting image.