Finding a good mentor is a game-changer
A lot of us don’t have mentors. Why not? Their benefit is incalculable. Their insights are critical. Yet, somehow it’s not usually a big priority.
Whether you’re a Hearts employee or considering working with our team, you need a mentor. No, really. Over time, it’s easy to get lost in our heads. A mentor can help us check in with ourselves and stay accountable to our long term goals.
How do you find the right mentor?
Finding a good mentor is a personal process and it’s a little different for everyone. That being said, here are a few ways to go about it.
Start by thinking about who you look up to. In an interview with A.J. Storinge, he shares, “It could be your direct supervisor, someone who’s leading your department or someone within the C-suite. And they’re not always people who are more senior than you. Sometimes I have mentors who are peers thinking about the same things as me.”
Then don’t be afraid to ask! A.J. Storinge continues:
“I usually start by asking if they would be willing to be my mentor and if I could ask them for advice. I’ve never had anyone say no!”
Even though many of these people are busy, they’re often at a stage in their career where they are ready to give back! They want to help shape the next generation of employees.
Mentorship in action
A.J. Storinge was in Los Angeles earlier this month, giving a presentation at a town hall with our CEO, Erin Matts. At the end of his presentation he made his usual offer, “If for the next day or two anybody wants to have a cup of coffee, let me know. In fact, if you raise your hand, I’ll buy you the coffee. You don’t even have to buy me one.”
But no one took him up on it.
After they returned to their hotel that night, three folks messaged them asking, “Hey, would you like to meet us for drinks?”
And even though they were both in their rooms decompressing, they were so inspired by the invitation that A.J. immediately wrote back saying. “Let’s meet halfway. If you come here to the hotel, I’ll buy you drinks.”
And the three folks actually showed up. They sat and talked for an hour and a half! A.J. says, “They were asking great questions that actually made me stop to think. And what was interesting at the end, as we were getting up and walking away, they said,
“We actually thought you would never write back to us.”
A.J. Storinge was shocked! He said, “That’s crazy!” And then he gave some wise advice to future contacts, “Assume that we’re wanting to talk to you as much as you’re wanting to talk to us. And by asking a few questions, you’ll unlock things that maybe you weren’t thinking about.”
Leading companies support mentorship
Mentorship is easy to lose sight of without forward-looking companies actively supporting it. Hearts & Science currently has an open-door policy where anyone in leadership is approachable as a mentor.
This informal approach is supplemented with a formal process where each employee receives personal development plans. They include feedback on both areas of strength and development.
And perhaps most importantly, Hearts & Science is proud to announce that they will be launching a mentorship program in the future to supplement both of these approaches.
An unexpected benefit from good mentors
Mentorship can teach hard skills, but perhaps more importantly, it can also nurture soft skills.
A.J. Storinge shares, “A big part of my development as I grew into management, was learning the difference between listening and hearing. That isn’t something that’s often trained, but it was something one of my mentors helped me with as I started working more with senior clients.”
He goes on to asy, “Your instinct is to try to absorb as much of what they’re saying explicitly. But you have to open up yourself up to the implied or implicit information that is coming through. It’s not just the explicit feedback, but the overall feedback too.”
“What I’ve honed, and I’m still working on, is that ability to have a balance in listening and hearing. They’re traits that leaders have. You can’t just teach it in a conference room. It’s a part of your personal development journey.”
No matter where you are in your career, you can benefit from a mentor. Think carefully about who can help you along your journey. Choose someone who can be invested in your success, someone who has similar experience and trajectory.
Then don’t be afraid to ask them for help!