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business career entrepreneur success

Staying Positive in Your Mentoring Relationship

The attitude you bring to the table when you become a protégé can make or break a mentoring relationship. Think about the protégé a mentor would prefer to spend time with.

Someone who is cynical, gloomy, and distrustful, always looking for the next disaster in his daily life? Or someone who is confident, optimistic, and outgoing, always willing to tackle a problem and turn it into an opportunity?

A successful mentor-protégé relationship begins with a positive attitude. A positive attitude tells your mentor you want to improve and are interested in everything he wants to teach you. But how do you stay positive when you encounter problems, challenges, and mistakes?

To develop and maintain a positive attitude in a mentoring relationship you must practice positive behavior, eliminate negative thoughts, and use positive self-suggestion.

Practice positive behaviors

The first strategy to project a positive attitude is to practice positive behaviors. How you behave will directly influence the way your mentor interacts with you. When you practice positive behaviors and exhibit a positive attitude you become more approachable and benefit more from the mentoring relationship.

To maintain a positive attitude in every situation, you should practice the following positive behaviors:

  • Establish realistic expectations with your mentor — Your mentor is most likely taking on the job of mentoring you as an add-on to her already busy schedule. Look to her as a guide; don’t expect her to do your work for you. Ask your mentor upfront exactly what she is willing to do for you. Then refrain from asking for more.
  • Follow through on any commitments you make — One of the best ways to show you are a professional and worthy of a mentor is to follow through on any and all commitments made to your mentor. Plus, taking action on your commitments will bring you closer to your own success.
  • Incorporate behaviors that enhance your personal power — Show your mentor that you care about improving yourself and your work by incorporating behaviors that enhance your personal power. Continual learning, positive self-talk, and even taking care of your health are all ways to enhance your personal power.
  • Take the initiative to keep in contact with your mentor — Because you stand to gain the most from the mentoring relationship, it is your responsibility to keep the contact between the two of you consistent. You will have the added benefit of showing your mentor that you can think in a proactive manner and take action accordingly.

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business career entrepreneur success

Benefiting from Your Mentor’s Feedback

Have you ever wanted to know what your co-workers and supervisors thought of your last speech or project? Getting feedback is an important part of improving your work performance.

In a mentoring relationship, you can use your mentor’s feedback to learn how you are performing and what will help you improve.

To solicit feedback and incorporate it into your job you can: ask your mentor questions, listen to and follow your mentor’s advice, and learn from your mistakes.

Ask your mentor questions

The first strategy that can help you incorporate your mentor’s feedback into your job is to ask questions. When you listen to your mentor evaluate your performance, ask for specific details to generate feedback.

Don’t ask irrelevant or strictly yes-or-no questions such as, “Did you like my presentation?” Instead, ask open-ended questions such as, “How did the marketing director respond to my presentation?” Open-ended questions will provide you with the details you need to improve and advance in your career.

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business career entrepreneur success

Building Rapport with Your Mentor

The most successful mentoring relationships occur between protégés and mentors who have established a rapport in a relationship build on mutual trust and affinity. Building rapport with your mentor is accomplished by understanding your mentor’s professional characteristics, establishing confidentiality within the relationship, and creating trust.

Professional characteristics

One strategy you can use to build a rapport with your mentor is to figure out her professional characteristics. Mentors and protégés who share similar characteristics will probably work well together. For example, you should choose a mentor with a personality you consider appealing. Or you might choose someone who has taken the same career path you plan to take, so you can learn from her experience.

You need to discover what kind of guidance your mentor can offer you. You can learn by being taught or modeling the skills of your mentor. The best mentoring strategy will depend on your mentor’s skills and on your learning preferences.

Counseling abilities

It is important to learn about your mentor’s counseling abilities. You should know how often you will be able to bring up your professional problems. Also, find out if your mentor feels comfortable discussing your personal life so you know the limits of your relationship.

Learn your mentor’s approach to different situations. She may be the kind of person who loves to debate issues. She may be the type who tries to solve problems immediately. Whatever the case, you need to know her approach, so you can learn to communicate with her.

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business career entrepreneur success

What are Your Responsibilities as a Protégé?

Do you want to move ahead quickly in your career? If so, you should take the initiative to make your professional dreams come true.

Even if you have the help of a mentor, you are the only one who really knows what you want out of your career — it is therefore up to you to focus your career development by setting your own career goals, assessing your job skills, and being a proactive protégé.

Learn the organizational culture

Before you can focus on your career development, you should learn the organizational culture of your company. It is crucial to understand the inner workings, such as the written and unwritten rules, before you try to advance within the established system. Your mentor can help because she has experience gained by working with high-ranking managers.

When your mentor talks about the organizational culture, encourage her to tell you more. In this way, you will gain valuable insights that will help you learn what is expected from employees who want to advance.

Set your own career goals

Once you know how your company operates, you can work on your career. The first strategy to focus your career development is to set your own career goals. You should decide what you want in your professional life and ask your mentor for his input. Your mentor can also help you discover your strengths and weaknesses on the job. But you must be the one who creates the first list of goals.

You probably have some short-term goals that you can reach quickly, like taking a training course. Others, such as a promotion, are long-term goals. If you list all your goals, they are easier to remember and reach in an organized manner.

A good way to focus your career path is to approach it step by step. With your mentor’s input, you can design specific strategies to meet your goals. Outlining the steps involved will make your goals seem more attainable.

Another good way to ensure you can meet your goals is to set deadlines. Your mentor’s experience will be valuable in helping you establish a realistic time frame in which to reach each goal. Deadlines can also help you track exactly what you are accomplishing as you are being mentored.

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