7 Factors to Look Out For When Choosing a Mentor

Mentorship offers several benefits, one of which is growth. It is almost impossible to grow professionally without a mentor to guide you on your journey. Developing key relationships with mentors helps you learn new things and build your network.

However, it is important to be sure if you really need a mentor at this point in time of your journey. Or perhaps you need a coach or sponsor, or you may even need all. This is depending on your professional goal.


Coach, Mentor, and Sponsor: What’s the Difference?

Mentors, coaches, and sponsors are all important at different stages of your development. Each one helps you to achieve progress professionally, depending on the stage you find yourself. Your choice of which to choose depends on your set of goals at a particular time. Here are the different ways they function:

  • Coach: A coach helps you achieve specific goals through a structured process and system. They are typically experts in that field and leverage their experience to help you achieve your objectives. Coaching is focused on a specific area, such as productivity or leadership, for instance. 
  • Mentor: A mentor uses their experience to provide ongoing informal and flexible structured relationships to help a mentee through wisdom and guidance. 
  • Sponsor: A sponsor is a person who actively seeks your professional advancement and advocates for you. It is usually focused on your growth within an organization. Sponsors mostly hold an influential position in that organization.

7 Factors to Look Out For When Choosing a Mentor 

Since our discussion is focused on mentorship, let’s look at seven factors to consider when choosing a mentor. I have discussed each one briefly below:

  1. A mentor must be experienced:  Your mentor should be someone who has experience in your field of interest. Their main responsibility is to show you the ropes so that you can become better and achieve your goals through their experience. If the person is successful but not in your field, they might be a great senior friend, but not a mentor.
  2. A mentor must be an active listener: One of the ways to glean knowledge from your mentor is through one-on-one conversations. However, these conversations are not based on just the mentor speaking all through. They should also be able to listen to you so they understand where you need help and guidance. Choose a mentor who is dedicated to active listening, not just talking.
  3. A mentor must have similar values to yours: A person who is fit to be your mentor must be one who has similar values to yours. This means that you must first determine your values before you set out to find a mentor. After this, through proper communication, you can determine if a person is fit to be your mentor by the values they uphold. When a mentors value system is divergent to yours, there may be clashes, and your mentor-mentee relationship may not last.
  4. A mentor must be willing to set out time for the mentorship: Mentorship is a relationship that requires time. A person you choose as your mentor should be ready to dedicate substantial time to the relationship. One of the things you must discuss with the individual before making them your mentor is how much time they are willing to dedicate to help you grow.
  5. A mentor must be able to share constructive feedback: One way to help you improve and get closer to achieving your goals is constructive feedback. A good mentor should help you on your professional development journey through constructive feedback. They should also be ready to give you the stick when it is necessary, as long as it is constructive, and will lead you in the right direction. As you would expect, mentorship is not always going to be a jolly good ride, and feedback wouldn’t always be friendly.
  6. A mentor must understand your goals: When choosing a mentor, look for a person who clearly understands your goals. If they don’t understand your goals, they can only do very little to help you attain success. Again, you cannot choose someone who understands your goals if you don’t have any goals or a full grasp of what they entail. Through discussion with such individuals, you can tell if they understand your goals and have the capacity to drive you towards achieving them.
  7. A mentor must be empathetic: Finally, a mentor must have empathy. They must understand your ups and downs and be able to relate to your journey. A person who will always give you the stick without relating to the pains of the journey may not be the best pick. Instead, they should help you get up when you fall, while being there when you need a shoulder to lean on.

Mentorship is essential to your growth process. When choosing a mentor, be ready to ask questions, observe, and seek recommendations. I have explained seven factors to look out for when choosing a mentor. Would like to learn more about mentorship? Follow me on all my social media platforms.