Choosing a Mentor

T

tekno9000

#1
Hi All,

Over the weekend I was reflecting on my past professional life. I came to conclusion that I had the knowledge and skills (My own opinion so you can discount it if you want) to be a successful person but had not quite made it because lack of direction. Since it is never too late for any CAPA, I realized that I need to get a mentor for myself.

That brings to another chain of thoughts.
• How to choose a mentor?

• How can I be useful to my mentor so that she/he is interested in mentoring me?

• What would be the pros and cons of a virtual mentor?

This is a virtual meeting place for intelligent minds, so please guide me on this subject. The discussions and outcomes will be important to myself as well as other people who use this forum.

Thanks.
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
Hi All,

Over the weekend I was reflecting on my past professional life. I came to conclusion that I had the knowledge and skills (My own opinion so you can discount it if you want) to be a successful person but had not quite made it because lack of direction. Since it is never too late for any CAPA, I realized that I need to get a mentor for myself.

That brings to another chain of thoughts.
• How to choose a mentor?

• How can I be useful to my mentor so that she/he is interested in mentoring me?

• What would be the pros and cons of a virtual mentor?

This is a virtual meeting place for intelligent minds, so please guide me on this subject. The discussions and outcomes will be important to myself as well as other people who use this forum.

Thanks.
I'm not sure the protegé (the term for the person being mentored) really has a lot of influence on selecting a Mentor. The truth is there are different levels of mentoring and even in some cases plural or multiple Mentors. I do think the protegé has some choice in accepting a mentor-protegé relationship, but there are a lot of pitfalls in asking someone to be a Mentor - not everyone wants to be a Mentor or is prepared or capable of being a Mentor. The motive of the Mentor plays a large part in the relationship. (I've seen some relationships called a mentor-protegé one, but to an outsider [me] there was something "off" - in one which may have been perfectly above-board, the Mentor struck me as a "cougar" [if she had been male, we would have probably labeled her a dirty old man.] Her advocacy for her protegé had a hint of desperation about it that caused tongues to wag and may have retarded the career of the protegé rather than advanced it.)

Some organizations have a formal Mentor program, but in practice they come across more as "big brother" than Mentor because the pool of Mentors doesn't reach high enough in the corporate ranks to be more than a form of on-the-job training from coworkers little more advanced than the protegés themselves. I like to think of a good Mentor as the kind of person who has "been there and done that" making some mistakes and gaffes along the way, including going up some blind alleys. The Mentor's attitude should be more altruistic than self-indulgent. I get a weird feeling when I read and hear about some Mentor programs which emphasize promotion benefits for Mentors.

All that said, I think a "protegé-in-waiting" can make himself/herself more attractive to potential Mentors by adopting the precepts of Deming's theory about a System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) by asking about, researching about, and assimilating a well-rounded mass of knowledge about:

  1. the immediate task at hand
  2. its relationship to the foregoing and subsequent steps in a process
  3. the customers of the organization
  4. the suppliers to the organization
  5. the relationship of all the functions in the organization which synergistically create a whole greater than the sum of the parts
  6. the relationship and controls of regulators
  7. the relationship of the organization to its community and environment
  8. the competitors of the organization and their relative market share compared to the organization
A good Mentor (I like to think I was a good one) wants an eager protegé who shows initiative in learning and doesn't just sit back and say, "Teach me!"
 

Ajit Basrur

Staff member
Admin
#3
Wes has given great idea.

On another front, you would definitely have someone in mind with whom you would feel comfortable. Identify those guys who demonstrate such skills - approach them and ask if they are willing to take you as a mentee.

I have seen some people from my working experience who approached to some guys and got good mentorship.

Btw, this is a very good question :)
 
T

tekno9000

#4
Thanks Wes and Ajit for your useful comments.

I agree with the “Cougar / dirty old man thinking pattern syndrome” that Wes mentioned. This is why I felt it would be challenging and exciting to have a virtual mentor. I not a fan of being mentored by a person who is related to the mentee in any way (same organization or have KPI’s that relate) because there is a tendency that “the environment” will create a bias in this relationship. A virtual mentor would be like a third party auditor, who has clear goals in mind and is not biased by his own thoughts and experiences (hopefully).

That said, finding a virtual mentor becomes lot tougher because there is no connection here unless it is your professor/teacher. Some professors these days are retired professionals, but then there is a dotted connection line here too.

So now the option is to look for a mentor – mentee relationship in a format that is more prevalent today – The virtual mentor. Will this be a good strategy?

Please share your thoughts.

Thanks.

BTW, there is an interesting article (totally off the current topic) in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek about Cougars.
 
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