What Should Managers Look For In A Mentor?

Positivity may not be the most important factor
Positivity may not be the most important factor
Image Credit: Brian Ujiie

In order to become better managers, we all realize that there are a number of ways to make this happen. We can go seek manager training and try to develop the manager skills that we know that we need. However, there is another way to go about becoming better: get a mentor. If you decide to go this route, right off the bat you’ll be faced with a difficult question: what should you look for in a mentor?

What Not To Look For In A Mentor

If you decide that a mentor is what you need in order to move your career to the next level, then you are going to have to do some homework. The first question that you are going to have to ask yourself is what qualities you want your mentor to have. All too often, we think that we would like a mentor who is willing to shower us with kind words – who wouldn’t?

Some studies that have been done lately have shown that managers tend to favor mentors who are positive – almost cheerleader types. They like this kind of mentor more than mentors who are tough talkers and voices of experience. The result of these studies was that when we choose a mentor who is positive it often leads to detrimental results.

All too often managers will choose positivity over expertise. It turns out that if we are asked what kind of mentor we are looking for, we’ll say that we are looking for one that has expertise. However, when it comes time to actually select a mentor, we will all too often go with the one that acts more positively towards us.

The Correct Way To Choose A Mentor

The reason that selecting our mentor simply because we get “positive vibes” from them is so wrong is shown by the results of the study. Managers who have selected cheerleader type mentors ended up underperforming those managers who selected mentors based on their expertise.

It may not be easy for a manager to choose a mentor whom they view as being rough around the edges. Our interactions with them may not be pleasant experiences. These may be tough to get through, but they do work. You can think of them as a form of team building. We need to realize that sometimes we really do need to have access to someone who has the skills that we are looking for and that a nice mentor candidate just might not be able to give us what we really need.

What All Of This Means For You

Managers have multiple choices when it comes to finding ways to move their career forward. We can seek out traditional training or we can go seeking a mentor. If we choose to find a mentor, we are going to have to move very carefully and make sure that we choose the right mentor for us.

When we go to select a mentor to help us move our career forward, we are going to have to determine what qualities we are going to want to make sure that they have. It turns out that most managers like mentors who will say good things about them and act almost as a cheerleader for them. These are the types of mentors that we are naturally drawn towards. However, it turns out that this type of mentor may not be the best fit for us. Instead, we might want to select a mentor who has more experience. They may appear to be a bit gruffer, but studies have revealed that our time spent with them will turn out to be more valuable.

Choosing a mentor is a big deal for a manager. This is the person who is going to show you how you can move your career forward. When you are selecting the correct person for this role, you need to keep in mind what you want to get out of the relationship. You are looking for someone who has been there, done that and who can tell you what you need to be doing. Yes, you may not always like what they have to tell you, but you know that it will be the right thing for you to do. When it comes to choosing your mentor, take your time and choose wisely.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to ask someone to be your mentor?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When a manager goes interviewing for a job, they may find it odd to be on the other side of the interviewing table. We use our manager skills to do a lot of interviewing as a part of our job; however, when we go looking for our next job we need to know how to use our manager training to do so successfully. What’s the best way for a manager to get the job that they are interviewing for?

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