Finding a Good Fit Mentor/ Coach

By Sue Hornblow, Key Performance Group.

In my last blog I shared some thoughts on how having a mentor or coach can accelerate your career and help you to unlock your potential. In this blog, we will consider how to find a good fit mentor or coach.

The key to establishing a high value mentoring or coaching relationship is finding a person who is a good fit for you. Not just the skills and knowledge you seek, they also need to be a person who you can connect with, trust and respect. They need to be a person who can provide a different perspective, who can challenge your thinking. Some useful questions to ask yourself as you consider potential mentors or coaches include:

  •     What are your expectations of mentoring or coaching?
  •     What skill set, knowledge or experience are you seeking to build?
  •     What are your goals or goal areas?
  •     What might some of your blind spots or biases be? And what type of person might provide useful insights for you?
  •     What style of person inspires you?
  •      Who do you know who might be a valuable mentor or coach?
  •     If you don’t know someone directly, who else might recommend a suitable person?

Once you have identified a potential mentor or coach, I suggest having an informal meeting to explore how such a relationship may work best for both of you.  A café provides a relaxed atmosphere for this type of discussion. This is a time for you to establish rapport. It is useful also to explore what your goals and expectations would be from the relationship. Agree to proceed (or not). At this point you can discuss and agree logistics e.g.

  •     How frequently should you meet?
  •     What boundaries may be required?
  •     How and when will you review progress?
  •     When will you terminate the relationship?

Take time to discuss and agree protocols. These can include that:

  •     Mentee is open to learning and willing to be stretched
  •     Both parties are committed to the time required engage in regular face to face contact
  •     Mentee is responsible for carrying out agreed actions

Establishing a trusting high value mentoring relationship takes an investment of time for both parties.  It typically takes several sessions to build trust and an understanding of what approaches work best for each of you. In my next blog I will give you some ideas for structuring effective mentoring sessions.

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