What to look for in a coach or mentor

“I look at where I’m at today and realise that most of my success is owed to the mentors in my life.” These are the words of seven time Grammy award winning musician Kendrick Lamar. Whether you’re a rap fan or not, they’re words that resonate across most professions and careers. Having a coach or mentor can give you the support of someone at your back and an inspirational presence with the power to help shape your decisions and vision. But, when it comes to the process of choosing a coach or mentor what should you look for?

Qualifications and experience

Evaluating a potential coach or mentor’s own career is a good starting point if you’re going through the process of finding someone to work with. What kind of credentials do they have that are relevant to coaching someone like you and what can they offer over and above what you see on paper? Often, the best coaches or mentors aren’t drawn from exactly the same world as the mentee. It may be useful to have the perspective of someone with a slightly different background to yours.

Strong references

Talking to previous clients is the fastest way to get a good idea of whether a coach or mentor is likely to be a good fit for you. Are the references positive and what kind of comments do other mentees make about coaching style and the results that they have experienced? Most coaches or mentors will be happy to provide some references and a couple of former clients for you to speak to.

A coaching structure that works for you

Before signing up for anything, look at the way that the coach or mentor is proposing to deliver the service. If you’re looking for support in person but this particular mentor only works with clients online or via Skype then it’s not likely to be the right relationship. What flexibility is there in terms of your preferences and how is the coaching priced? All of this will have an impact on whether a mentor or coach is the right fit.

A connection

As Kendrick Lamar said, a coach or mentor can have a huge influence over the direction of your life. So, finding someone with whom you have a connection will make a big difference to how effective the relationship is. Mentor-mentee connections could work in many different ways, from one that feels more like a friendship, to a relationship that is similar to teacher and student. It’s important to find the balance that works best for you.

Before you start looking for a coach or mentor…

  • Define the outcomes you’re hoping to see from the experience
  • Work out how you will manage your time to accommodate your mentor
  • Look at what is likely to be required from you to achieve the outcomes that you’re hoping for
  • Ensure that you have a written contract that clearly sets out expectations and obligations

Coaching and mentoring can take many different forms and there’s a wide range of methods for delivering this kind of learning. For businesses keen to improve mentoring in-house an LMS could have a lot of advantages – contact Enterprise Study to find out more today.

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