Finding the right workplace mentor is very important, whether you are in business for yourself or an employee. The right mentor for you just might be younger! As boomer women, we sometimes do not think of having a younger mentor. When in search of a mentor, pay attention to all the people in your workplace, especially the younger ones. Then choose wisely. You might be thinking, “Inez, why would I want a younger person as my mentor?” Because they have knowledge to share that will be a win-win for both of you!
This will be an even exchange of information where you learn from each other. Progress might go more slowly than your would hope. Be patient, Professor Earl Miller, a neuroscience professor at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says, “As you age, your dendrites begin to shrink. Your mind’s bandwidth is smaller. You learn at a slower rate because less information is getting in.” Do not be dismayed, it might take a little longer but you will learn.
A younger person as your workplace mentor can help you look at your situation and think creatively about what you are doing. Take into consideration that they don’t have your knowledge or experience. Their suggestions on how things can be done differently and be more impactful might seem a “little off” to you. Be encouraged, have more discussions, be willing to experiment and notice the change.
Now that you’ve decided to seek a mentor, here are 3 suggestions on what to do prior to asking for help.
- Clarify what you desire. Before seeking out mentors, write down your specific expectations and the role you want mentors to play. You need to understand your goals. A mentor provides tactical and strategic input. What do you want to learn? Clarifying your expectations, goals and objectives will ensure that you find the right mentors and that the relationships benefit your professional goals.
- Be clear with your mentor. Once you’ve identified a potential mentor, ask to meet and discuss a possible mentoring relationship. At this meeting make certain you’re both clear on what this relationship entails. Meet somewhere that is mutually comfortable and where you can speak in confidence.
- Meet consistently. Make it easy for each other and meet at convenient locations. Keep it short and always send a follow up note of thanks. Together decide on times to meet in person or on the phone. Make sure the relationship is reciprocal let them know how their information is making an impact.
You choose a mentor because you believe they can help you be more successful. Mentors take an interest in you because they believe in you. This is a win-win situation for both of you. Sharing your world and what makes your work special gives them a valuable perspective. Working together you create magic, leading to personal and professional success with exponential growth.