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How to identify the right mentor at work
Sunder Ramachandran , Chitvan Goyal
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February 20, 2007

It is often said that if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there!

On a serious note, lack of proper direction and guidance can slow down your career growth.

It is therefore imperative to identify that one person who has the ability, time and dedication to give you necessary advice, which could make all the difference in helping you reach your career aspirations -- faster and more effectively.

This person is known as a mentor. In simple words, a mentor is a wise and trusted counsellor or a teacher. He or she can act as a catalyst to nurture your potential and talent.

How a mentor can help

Just like a mathematics student needs a tutor to help solve difficult problems, you need someone to help you tackle the bigger challenges at work. 

Some of the things you can learn from a mentor are:

How to identify a mentor

Keep your eyes and ears open, and observe your seniors keenly, at work. He or she could be a:

Raghav Pandit, a training consultant with WCH Training Solutions in Delhi says, "A majority of professionals restrict their search for a mentor to their immediate boss or senior management. Good mentors often come from the most unlikely places and executives should stay open to all possibilities."

For instance, a senior human resource professional could make a great mentor for a young IT executive.

Domain expertise helps. But so does an understanding of interpersonal communication and other typical challenges that most professionals face.

Qualities of a good mentor

You are the best judge of what you require in a mentor. But here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing one. He or she must:

While having a strong or immediate rapport is good, remember that a mentorship is not a friendship.

You're not trying to widen your social circle so make sure that you are aware of the mentor's availability so that you are not in conflict with his or her schedule.

Making the most of your relationship

~ Approach your mentor with trustworthiness and confidence. There should be openness and transparency between the two of you. 

Both of you must not hesitant to discuss a concern or issue.

~ Identify your strengths and weaknesses, so you can focus on the areas you need to develop or improve.

~ Accept feedback constructively.

~ Approach your mentor to develop contacts and references, as and when you require them.

-- The authors work with WCH Training Solutions and can be reached at

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