Mentoring used to be seen as an older, more experienced person guiding a younger one on their career path. This typically involved a senior leader giving advice to a junior employee about work and career advancement. However, mentoring has evolved over the years. The old idea of a long, uninterrupted career with one company is outdated, and so is the belief that guidance must come from someone much older. While the traditional mentor-mentee setup still exists, it’s no longer the only option. Nowadays, there are various avenues to seek advice and direction for your career.

Mentoring has evolved over time, but the importance of career guidance remains unchanged. In today’s dynamic job market, where careers often take unexpected turns, the need for counseling is greater than ever. Kathy E. Kram, a professor at Boston University, notes that while the concept of mentoring has shifted due to the changing landscape of work, outdated beliefs about it still linger. Jeanne Meister, a workplace expert, emphasizes that there are various interpretations of mentoring. Debunking common myths surrounding mentoring can guide individuals in seeking the right advice and support for their career development.

Myth #1: You Need One Perfect Mentor 

It’s not necessary to find just one perfect mentor. Nowadays, it’s more common for individuals to have multiple advisors. Have a group of trusted individuals you can seek advice from. This network can be big or small, even including your spouse or partner. Having diverse perspectives can be beneficial when facing challenges. 

Myth #2: Mentoring Have to Be Long-Term

In today’s fast-paced world where people switch jobs frequently, long-term mentoring relationships may not always be practical or necessary. Mentoring doesn’t have to be a prolonged commitment; it can simply be a one-hour session. Instead of viewing mentoring as a lengthy endeavor, consider it as a resource to tap into when needed, much like accessing Twitter for quick insights rather than undergoing a lengthy therapy session.

While guidance from someone familiar with your aspirations can be valuable, it’s also beneficial to seek advice from those less acquainted with you. Building relationships is still important to ensure you have a network to turn to for advice, but there are times when seeking input from outsiders can provide fresh perspectives.

Myth #3: Mentoring is only for beginners

Some believe that mentoring is only necessary for those just starting their careers. “In the past, we thought mentoring was mainly for those in the early stages, like recent MBA graduates. But now we see that people at any point can benefit from this support,” explains Kram. Meister and Willyerd, authors of The 2020 Workplace, discuss reverse mentoring, where a junior person advises a senior on new technology.

There are many times in a corporate career when mentorship is valuable. While you shouldn’t wait for them to find you, times of change, like transitioning roles, are excellent opportunities to seek mentorship. Whether you’re changing careers, starting a new job, or considering leaving, guidance from someone experienced can be invaluable.You might need a mentor when the workplace is evolving quickly, and you’re struggling to keep up or when you’re navigating the complexities of your organization

Myth #4: Mentoring is solely a selfless act by more experienced individuals

According to Willyerd, asking someone to be a mentor can be seen as an honor. However, respect isn’t the only motivation for mentors. Mentoring should benefit both parties. Before approaching a potential mentor, consider what you can offer them. Do you have insights into the organization or their role? Can you provide valuable external knowledge to aid their success? Whatever it may be, ensure you communicate clearly what’s in it for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean a direct exchange. Even the promise of future assistance, when needed, can persuade a mentor to invest their time and effort.

So, do you need mentoring?

Now that you have a better understanding of what mentoring can be, do you need it? The place to start is with self-assessment and find out what are the challenges in front of you right now and why. Then ask yourself, do you have the relational resources to handle those challenges? If the answer is no, it may be time to seek out a mentor or several. Remember that mentoring can take many shapes and forms — the key is to find the right kind of advice from the right person at the right time.

This article has been referenced for HBR. To read the complete article click here

About High Potential Career Planning:

An initiative of ACH, High Potential Career Planning (HPCP) is established with a mission to mentor professionals in their search for career development and growth. We provide personalized mentorship programs, which can help individuals have a fulfilling career.


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