Weekly Editorial

10 Traits for Effective Mentorship

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • January 29, 2024

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Everyone deserves at least one good mentor during their professional career. I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of them.

A few came early in my career at a time I really needed them. There’s Ed Wendover, former publisher of The Community Crier newspaper in Plymouth, Mich. Although I’m in the middle-late part of my career, I’m grateful to have Bob Beck, publisher of officeinsight as a mentor as well.

So how do you find a mentor? First, in this world of work from home and hybrid work, I would highly suggest actually going into the office. It is difficult to find a mentor when you are sitting at home working. Look for someone in your office that you respect and who has more experience than you (at least in an area where you lack experience). They don’t have to be older than you. Instead find someone who has knowledge you are looking for and who is willing to share it.

I found an excellent article from Indeed with 10 qualities to look for in a mentor:

Investment in education and growth

Mentors typically believe that professional success extends beyond what they can accomplish in their own careers. A desire to contribute to their field in other ways results in them educating colleagues. These experienced individuals understand the importance of sharing their knowledge.

Willingness to connect and network

Mentors tend to thrive on connecting with colleagues. They understand that these professional connections are essential to creating a comprehensive network of experts in every specialty. When you seek a mentor, try partnering with someone who can teach you where to network. They can also provide relevant resources to help you connect with industry experts.

Availability to devote time

Good mentors usually recognize that advising another individual in their field can require a substantial time investment. They know that sufficient time is necessary to devote to mentoring before beginning this type of relationship.

Active listening skills

Mentors often share knowledge and offer guidance during in-person conversations or by email. Supportive mentors also ensure they carefully listen to their mentees. By devoting equal energy to listening and talking, they can use their active listening skills to ensure they understand what you mean.

Constructive feedback

Mentors often rely on constructive feedback to reinforce your successes while helping you improve in other areas. Try to find a mentor who can reflect thoughtfully on your goals and accomplishments to offer constructive advice that guides your professional development strategy.

Honesty

Great mentors tend to be honest individuals and encourage mentees to prioritize integrity within their industries. They can share practical yet fair strategies for advancing in the field.

Positive outlook

Good mentors prioritize goals and develop action plans to improve themselves. When you partner with a mentor, try working together to set goals, such as advancing essential skills or creating a career path. After setting goals, you can transform them into an action plan that you can use to move your professional development forward.

Motivational skills

Mentors know how to motivate their colleagues to achieve their goals. They might cater their advice to an individual’s values to increase the chances of the individual fulfilling their accomplishments.

Industry knowledge

In many cases, good mentors have built careers in the same or similar industry as their mentees. Since you have a common field, their skills, experience and connections add much more value to your professional development. An ideal mentor can apply their advanced knowledge to help you learn more about your industry.

Adaptability

Look for a mentor who demonstrates adaptability by assessing challenges and developing unique solutions. By choosing a mentor with these qualities, you can learn how to overcome professional obstacles in the future.

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