How To Get Or Be A Mentor

Most of us have benefited from a guiding relationship with someone older and more experienced.  Many of us have also shared our insights and experiences with someone younger who is looking for direction and instruction.

Mentoring relationships frequently develop in the workplace, where a younger employee’s skills and judgment are nurtured along by an older co-worker.

Sometimes a child’s interests and talents are cultivated by a relative, a neighbor or a special teacher.  Listening, advising, training, counseling and guiding are important skills for a mentor, along with trust, experience and wisdom.

If you are interested in developing a mentoring relationship:

  • Check with your human resources department to see whether a mentoring program is available in your organization.  If not, be willing to participate in the research and implementation of starting one.
  • Think about people you know and respect who demonstrate the abilities and qualities you want to learn and develop.  Or consider younger people you might want to mentor.
  • Clearly define what you want from the potential mentor/protégé, what you’re willing to put into the relationship, how often you want to get together and for how much time, where, how you want to interact (phone, e-mail, in-person), how long you want the mentoring relationship to last and what the intended results are for each of you.
  • Set up a trial period (two to three month) to see whether you both like your mentoring relationship and are both getting what you want.  Compassionately end the relationship if the answer is “no” for either or both of you.
  • For children and adolescents, identify school or community programs that provide mentoring.

*Originally published  7/8/06 in The Kansas City Star “FYI Solutions” Section, “An Authentic Life” Column as a series of articles contributed by Kansas City life coach Lorrie Crystal Eigles. Eigles provided monthly insights, tactics, and encouragement to help readers realize their potential and lead more rewarding lives.