how having a mentor can help you develop personally and professionally.
As you confront
today's increasingly complex and uncertain healthcare environment, having
a mentor is more important than ever before. Whether you are new to the
healthcare field or a mid-career professional, the benefits of a being
a protege are numerous. By having a mentor, you can:
your opportunities. Besides helping you develop important professional
connections and expanding your network of contacts, a mentor can expose
you to new opportunities. For example, if your mentor is a high-level
executive, you may be placed in environments and confronted with situations
that you may not have been until later in your career. Furthermore, the
visibility you get from working with a high-level executive can affect
how others see you and may influence future opportunities.
from proven political insight. A mentor can provide you with valuable
information about the people, processes, and culture of your organization.
By sharing knowledge about the preferences and attitudes of those you
work with as well as the norms and values of your profession, your mentor
can set you up for success. For example, if you are preparing a proposal
for your organization's executive team, your mentor can advise you on
the concerns and priorities of the team's key players so you can tailor
your presentation to target their interests.
and depth to decision making. Throughout your career you will be faced
with many decisions. Limited by time and lack of pertinent information,
how do you know if the decisions you make will be the best ones? A mentor
is likely to have already experienced similar decision-making processes
and can help by providing a different perspective-a fresh, objective,
outsider's viewpoint backed by expertise and experience. This broader
perspective can help you escape "silo thinking" by bringing
forth a dimension to the issue that you had not considered, thus allowing
you to make more informed decisions.
as others may see you. We all have blindspots when it comes to our
own performance and personal conduct. Being unaware of how your actions
affect others can keep you from accomplishing your goals. For example,
your colleagues will certainly notice your tendency to interrupt them
while they are speaking, but will unlikely approach you about your bad
habit. If ignored, your behavior could become a detriment to your career
and your relationships. A mentor, however, has a personal interest in
your development and is in a unique position to notice and help you correct
your bad habits before they affect others.
develop and refine ideas. A mentor can serve as an excellent sounding
board for your ideas. The individual can offer knowledge and experience
to help you think through and shape your ideas as well as provide the
encouragement you need to take action. Furthermore, a mentor may be able
to connect you with the right people to help you get your ideas off the
Mentors can do many things for you and your career; however, there are
some things you should not expect from your mentor. The role of a mentor
- Not to
find you a new job. A mentor can help you grow so that you are ready
take on new roles on your own.
- Not to
tell you what to do. Your mentor's role is to help guide your decisions,
not make them for you.
- Not to
coddle you. The most effective mentors push you out of your comfort
zone and encourage you to take risks.
a mentor can enhance your development, a mentor alone will not guarantee
you success-you have to do your part as well. You can make the most of
a mentoring relationship by being curious, honest with yourself, and open
Biernat DeJovine is a principal and practice leader at Perrone-Ambrose
Assoicates, Inc., an organizational development consulting firm that helps
organizations create mentoring cultures.
2 N. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 1433
Chicago, IL 60606
Executive, March/April 2002