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All You Need to Know About a Work Mentor


Congratulations, you realize something is lacking in your career progress. Maybe it's the motherhood penalty, or discrimination, but perhaps you simply are stuck. This is a perfect question to pose to a mentor who can be objective while also having your best interests at heart.

What is the mentor definition?

"Okay, Katherine," you say. "You've got my attention. But what is a mentor, exactly?" It's a good question. People throw around buzzwords all the time without really understanding them. Here's the skinny on what we mean by "mentor."

How to find a mentor

Now that you understand what a mentor is, learn how to tap your network to find one. Even if you're one of the lucky ones whose employer provides a formal mentor program, it's useful to cultivate a mentor outside your organization and certainly outside your chain of command. You'll gain more insights and also have a broader network for possible future job moves.

Do's and don'ts of being a mentee

Once you've found the right mentor, get the mentor relationship off to a great start by following these rules. Of all the mentoring resources out there, perhaps the most important is how to negotiate the relationship and come to a shared understanding of how the two of you will proceed. Communication is key.

Do's and don'ts of being a mentor

Just as it's challenging to be a good mentee, it's no picnic being a successful mentor. You need to gently steer someone to find her own path, not hand over the answers. At the same time, you must be willing to challenge your mentee on her bad habits and call attention to blind spots. All in a quest to help her break the glass ceiling! In the end, you'll find a most rewarding relationship.

Qualities of the best work mentor

If you had any doubt about being with the right mentor, check out this list of the qualities that the best work mentors share. You may find that you do better with multiple mentors, certainly over the course of your career. If you are a mentor, see how you stack up!

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