Rarely within construction companies today do you see official written and followed mentoring programs. If you currently have a mentor or mentors that you communicate with on a regular basis, then you are fortunate. You have probably already realized in order to maintain a mentor/protégé relationship, you have to learn to be respectful of the mentor’s time, their privacy, trust and you have to be the initiator most of the time with follow-up and checking in.
Do you desire to have a mentor? Many of you do for various reasons, including getting advice on how to achieve your career goals, expanding your professional network, technical and relational advice, finding new opportunities or for various other reasons.
You can reap the same benefits of having a formal mentor by observing and listening to others and initiating a greater relationship with them. You are never too old to be mentored and you are never too young to mentor someone else. Each of us brings knowledge and experience to others. The key is to set realistic expectations and use discernment with any advice shared with you.
Several of the young professionals I placed with a development firm started meeting weekly for lunch to mentor one another on the various aspects of development that the other had not been exposed to yet. Each of them bring different personalities, educational backgrounds and skillsets, but share a common interest in learning the full development process. Their meetings resulted in helping one another with gaining the basic knowledge in areas they did not have, gaining confidence, which in turn gave them the confidence to ask for and accept taking on additional responsibilities when the need arose. Through this relationship, they also got to know one another personally and developed friendships and trust to be able to share their ups and downs and seek advice.
Human nature is to gravitate toward those with whom we have a lot in common. However in seeking out a mentor, it is wise to seek out people who have strengths that we lack. For example, if you are a more reserved individual, seek out someone who is extroverted. Try to avoid pairing up with someone who will reinforce your weaknesses. Instead, find someone who will challenge you to acquire new strengths.
You’re ready to seek out mentorship:
- Set your goals as to what area of your career, personal or professional development you could use a mentor for. If your goal is to learn more about Construction Management, then do not seek advice from someone who comes from another industry, or is not at least at the same level you are within your career. If you struggle with communication skills in general your mentor may be someone you know from another area of your life that you recognize has the traits you desire to have.
- Look around at the people in your personal and professional life. Is there someone you respect and admire? Someone you would like to emulate in some way? Someone who has the wisdom you need?
- Continue to observe and listen to that person. When the timing feels right don’t be intimidated. Ask, “Would you be willing to mentor me?” Most people are pleased to be asked to share their knowledge and honored that you have noticed their accomplishments.
- It is important once you have these people identified that you take the initiative to schedule time to meet which is convenient for both of you. You also provide your mentor with feedback as to how they have helped you and take the lead with planning.
- Choose a mentor that is a good role model with a good reputation for character. They should be good listeners and someone who doesn’t just encourage you, but will level with you if you are headed in the wrong direction.
- Be ready to receive. The key to taking three steps forward is your willingness to implement what is being taught to you, learn from your mistakes and take on new challenges that are out of your comfort zone.
While writing this article, I thought about the various mentors throughout my life and career including the current ones and how grateful I am to them. I didn’t always like or even take the advice they shared, which many times was the lesson in itself due to the consequences.
Mentor; coach, counsel, guide, instruct, edify, educate, explain, teach, tutor, aid, champion, help, sponsor… Look for those already bringing these to your life and ask for more! They will be flattered and you will reap the rewards.
If you are willing to be a mentor or need help discovering who might be a good mentor for you give us a call. We are always here to help!