Who shall I pick to be my mentor?

My
company does not have a formal mentoring scheme, but is quite happy for people
to make their own arrangements within the company. What should I look for when
choosing a mentor? I am an HR manager, but does it matter what part of the
business the mentor works in?

Claire
Coldwell, consultant, Chiumento

The
choice of mentor is crucial, so take time to get it right. Think about what you
wish to achieve from the relationship. Do you want a sounding board, a champion
for your career or someone who can help to raise your profile?

The
personality fit should be carefully thought about. A mentor should be someone
you can relate to and have a certain degree of empathy with – you must feel
comfortable discussing your work performance with them.

They
should be senior to you as the focus of mentoring is a development role to
assist your progress. If you aim to develop your career as an HR generalist, it
is good to get as much overall business experience as possible, so choose
someone with a wide remit.

A
mentor should be someone in the company who is not in any way involved in a
working relationship with you. Ideally they should be from another part of the
organisation so they can present a detached and impartial view.

Finally,
ensure the person you choose is committed to the process. Best of all, find
someone who has benefited from the process themselves and therefore understands
what it is like to be in your shoes.

Clive
Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning

The
fact that you are HR manager should not necessarily influence your decision
about finding a suitable mentor in the organisation. As there is no company
policy you can assess which people would have the experience and credibility to
enhance your performance.

This
offers a good opportunity to learn from, and share experiences with, a line
manager who will have a different view on the business. I appreciate that you
may be worried about confidentiality, taking account of the sensitivity of your
role, but as HR manager you should be in a good position to assess those
managers with high personal integrity.

Particular
points to consider in the selection of your mentor should include the range and
depth of experience, professional development received and length of time spent
in management.

Jo
Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

A
mentor should have many qualities. They must be someone who you respect and who
is respected within the organisation. They need to be someone who is committed
to the concept of mentoring and is both able and has the time available to
offer you support. They should have experience you can draw upon for your own
development.

What
part of the organisation they work in is less important so long as they are
someone who you interact with on a regular basis.

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