Developing Your Career


Find Your Yoda: Five Tips for Identifying a Mentor in a New Organization

By Lee Hecht Harrison on August 21, 2014

After you land a new position, you’re about to face your next big challenge: learning to navigate an unfamiliar culture with unfamiliar co-workers. Maybe your new organization will have an onboarding program that includes mentoring with an experienced employee. If not, you may be on your own. King Arthur had Merlin; Luke Skywalker had Yoda. Who will you turn to for guidance and support? Who will help you learn the lay of the land?

Here are five tips for finding a mentor in a new workplace who can share valuable knowledge, information and advice:

  1. Listen and observe.  Start by listening more than talking. Take time to absorb information and observe the behavior of colleagues. Zero-in on team members who are knowledgeable about the company and industry — and who are respected by co-workers.
  2. Seek suggestions. Ask your supervisor to recommend someone who can show you the ropes. Tap this person to learn as much as you can about the job and the key players.  Remember to show appreciation and provide updates to demonstrate how you’re progressing.
  3. Focus on development. During the first few weeks, you’ll be able to identify skill gaps that could hinder your progress. Seek out someone very familiar with your job and department and ask for ways to shorten the learning curve.
  4. Gain visibility. Take advantage of internal networking opportunities by participating in interdepartmental meetings and attending company-sponsored events. Introduce yourself to everyone; don’t wait for them to approach you.
  5. Recognize the role of reciprocity. Building a strong, mutually beneficial mentor/mentee relationship requires a willingness to contribute. Consider what assistance you might offer that will add value.

It can be exciting — and challenging — to face the unfamiliar in a new job at a new organization.  Identifying a mentor can ease the way and get the next chapter of your career off to an impressive start.


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