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4 Reasons You Don’t Need a Formal Mentor

When you're new to a field, or even just working in a new position, there's a lot to learn. It's useful to have someone to help you understand the ins and outs of the work. And, it's important to be able to get your questions answered when they pop up. A lot of people feel that there are tremendous benefits to participating in a formal mentor/mentee relationship in order to address these needs. However, there might be another way – or even a better way – to meet the same goals. Here are some reasons you might NOT need a mentor.

When you’re new to a field, or even just working in a new position, there’s a lot to learn. It’s useful to have someone to help you understand the ins and outs of the work. And, it’s important to be able to get your questions answered when they pop up. A lot of people feel that there are tremendous benefits to participating in a formal mentor/mentee relationship in order to address these needs. However, there might be another way – or even a better way – to meet the same goals. Here are some reasons you might NOT need a mentor.

young worker

(Photo Credit: reynermedia/Flickr)

1. It doesn’t have to be a formal process.

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Mentoring happens all the time without the formal constructs of a system to set it in motion. Most people understand that, because they’ve reached a certain level of expertise, there is a huge benefit to others and their business when they share their wisdom and guidance. Chances are you’ll be able to identify these folks and build relationships with them without the help of a formal mentoring system.

2. You might find a better “mentor” on your own.

It’s important to trust, respect, and even admire and feel inspired by your mentor. If you are randomly placed with a senior member of the team, or a higher up, you might not feel that rich connection. Finding someone to mentor you more organically could very well lead to finding a better fit for you. The difficulty here is not just finding that right person, but also being brave enough to solidify that connection.

Karen Taylor Bass provides some helpful tips regarding qualities to look for in a good mentor in her article for Madame Noire. Once you’ve found someone you connect with, take advantage of the resource. Be sure to thank the person mentoring you, (even more important in a less formal relationship), and be careful to be mindful of their time.

3. Let enthusiasm drive you now.

What the newbie lacks in experience, she makes up for with enthusiasm. Your newness comes with certain professional boons that won’t be available to you in years to come. There are certain qualities you can bring to your work that people who’ve been there for years might not have access to anymore. Your fresh perspective, for example, could unlock solutions to problems that people who’ve been there for years might not be able to see their way through. Enjoy this time for what it is. It’s okay that you don’t know everything right now, and there are benefits to not being overly influenced by someone who’s been at it for years.

4. It’s not a one person job.

These days, we build professional networks more often than one-on-one relationships. Developing links to people that you trust, respect, and learn with will help you in innumerable ways. Plus, people are awfully busy these days, and a formal mentoring role might be something that someone really great doesn’t quite have time for. But, a group of people can get the job done. Just because it’s not a formal relationship doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. These days, a less formal mentor/mentee relationship (or, better yet, a bunch of them), might be the most sensible and ultimately the most successful way to go.

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