Since joining the Credit Union system in 2005 I have had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with many people who have had a positive influence on my career as well as life. Over time, I have developed a group of individuals that I turn to in order to gain insight on things happening within the financial industry, discuss the pros & cons of a potential decision with, look for guidance on a situation that I may not have encountered before, help build on areas that I or someone else have identified as opportunities for me to grow in or even proof read blogs and presentations.
I consider and call these individuals mentors. The dictionary definition of a mentor is: someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. I would like to expand on that definition by adding in some additional details that I think are important to consider in the area of mentors.
- When considering a potential mentor’s experience, a person should be looking for someone with experience or knowledge in the area(s) that you have identified you need to grow in.
- Neither age nor title should factor heavily into selecting a mentor. Being a great leader or team member does not depend on having the word manager in your title or having reached a certain age. Some of the people I consider to be key mentors in my life and career are not managers. Some are around the same age as me and some aren’t even in the financial industry. The people that I consider I consider mentors all have in common the qualities or attributes that I want to emulate and learn or knowledge in areas that I feel I don’t have enough of.
- One key word that is missing from that definition is trust. You must be able to trust the people that you are going to for guidance and advice. At times there will have to be open and frank conversations and in order to do that, there has to be trust that information will remain confidential and that both parties can freely give their opinions.
- Most people in leadership roles that are mentoring others will also have their own mentors. People who are successful often are because they have been willing to seek out the advice of and learn from others. That doesn’t ever stop happening.
- Don’t wait for someone to offer to mentor you. While sometimes we are lucky enough to cross paths with people who turn out to be a positive influence in our lives, it doesn’t always happen that way. Take control of your career path and seek these people out. Before you do this though, know what specific areas or competencies you feel that you have the opportunity to improve in. Then together you can develop a plan to work on those.
- Don’t limit your “inner circle”. Credit Unions in Saskatchewan and all across Canada employ successful and knowledgeable people from all different backgrounds with a variety of life experiences and things to teach. Find ways to meet and learn from as many of these people as you can by attending conferences, joining committees or networking in any way possible.
- Pass it on… I once asked someone who had agreed to provide me feedback and give me some guidance in certain areas, why they would do that. I knew given their role and personal life that they had very little if any free time, yet they were willing to provide me feedback during that free time. Further to that, this individual worked with another Credit Union that had nothing to gain by helping me. His response to my question was simple “I’m doing this for you because someone else did it for me, and my hope is that someday you will do it for someone else”.
Hopefully with this blog I have started that today…
Affinity Credit Union