By Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Graduating from college and landing a job in the business world only means your education is just beginning, now in the REAL WORLD. You will quickly find that your new job demands a lot of “new things” that were never discussed in any classroom. You may quickly find that you need a resource, someone behind the scenes to help show you the ropes. That resource may be a mentor who can make a difference in your pace of learning. Some mentorship programs are formal while other mentor relationships just grow out of working with more senior people in your organization — they have “been there, done that.”
It’s important when you’re starting out in your career, but also as you climb the ladder of increased responsibility, to connect with the seasoned managers who are willing to help you see what all you can be. Their life experiences have given them a long-term perspective in a world of “I want it now.” That sense of perspective (“It will be OK”) can assist you when you are most frustrated and on the edge of despair in your career. Be receptive to feedback and advice from everyone, but accept it with discerning ear.
Younger employees tend to let their emotions get in the way of business. It’s understandable to be sensitive to criticism of your work, especially early on, but constructive criticism is vital for growth. Mentors can help open you up to being vulnerable and accepting of constructive criticisms and suggestions. All businesses require teamwork, collaboration and renovation. If you played sports, you may recall that your toughest athletic coaches made you better!
Mentors can impact the speed at which you excel. They can give you tips on how to keep moving forward and what pitfalls to avoid. That may mean handing off stalled ideas to co-workers, changing your approach to certain projects or communicating with managers in a different manner. Sometimes it even means sharing tough messages with you like: You need to change YOUR attitude.
While mentees can quickly see the rewards of their apprenticeship, mentors might not realize their own impact until years or decades down the road. They may not even realize they were someone’s mentor! This goes to show that you never know what kind of effect you can have or what kind of impression someone can make on you. So be cognizant of your interactions and relationships with colleagues. Those encouraging words or random acts of kindness may end up being more important and lasting than you think!