A good mentor can help you navigate organizational complexities.  (Photo: Shutterstock)

Mentor finding can be tricky business. I recently received the question below from a reader. I figure if one person asked it, others may well have it too. A good mentor can be an excellent career asset in helping you navigate the sometimes choppy, confusing waters of sizable organizations.  If you feel the need for a mentor, I highly recommend having one. Here’s the question.

Dear Mr. Lipman:

I work in a somewhat dysfunctional environment and am trying to find a mentor to help me better understand the company and help me with my career. How do I go about finding one?

Patricia

 

Dear Patricia:

That’s a great question.A good mentor who knows the organization well can be extremely valuable to you and your career.  Here are three suggestions to help you find one.

1. The simplest way: Ask your manager whom he or she would recommend. (This method may or may not be appropriate, depending on your relationship with your manager. But if you do have a good solid working relationship and respect his or her judgment, I’d start here.)

2. Work with Human Resources. Assuming your company has an HR Department (most organizations do), contact them and ask for help in this matter. HR usually is well aware of a company’s mentoring options and may even have specialists whose role it is to help employees with such situations. During my own corporate career I worked closely with HR many times on many issues, and was virtually always satisfied with the support I received.

3. If there’s someone else in your company – a manager or executive either in your part of the operation or in another area – whom you highly respect and feel you could learn from, just go ahead and ask them yourself if they’ll mentor you. (For full transparency, I would recommend letting your direct manager know you intend to do this.) Such approaches aren’t as unusual as they may seem. Many managers/executives will be pleased by the positive attention and glad to help you out. Over the years I was asked a number of times by employees to do this, and I always felt that if someone thought enough of me to ask for mentoring assistance, it was the least I could to help them as best I could.

Bottom line, there’s no reason to not have a mentor if you want one.  As I mentioned, they can definitely provide valuable career guidance – I know they did for me.

Two last points. Before making a final decision on a mentoring relationship, be sure you feel the mentor who’s been offered (for example by HR) is the right fit for you. Meaning you trust and respect the individual, and feel a natural rapport with him or her.  Mentoring only works when there’s a genuine positive connection.

Also, you mentioned in your note that your organization was “somewhat dysfunctional.”  If in fact it becomes too dysfunctional for you, that’s probably an issue a mentor can’t help with, and it may be time to vote with your feet, as the saying goes, and move on.

Source: Forbes