Mentors at work. We know they’re good to have, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding one. They can be someone on your team, someone in your company, or someone in a totally different line of work. But no matter who it is, there are some best practices when it comes to starting - and maintaining - those relationships. This week, we talked to Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC, to learn how she found mentors - and how she sustained those relationships throughout her career.
On Where To Start
Rashida: I always tell people to build those relationships when you don't need it. The worst thing you can do is say, "I've got a big decision to make, will you help me figure it out," before you've developed a relationship with them. Sometimes it makes sense to be as overt to say, "Will you be my mentor circle? Yes or no?"
…. Sometimes it's more of an organic thing where you never say the M word and you just develop that relationship. And that person becomes someone that you go to. I think both scenarios are okay. There's no one path to doing it.
…. Develop a genuine relationship with that person. It shouldn't just be about you asking them things or picking their brain about X, Y, and Z. Build that relationship before you actually need them to do things…. Think about ways that you can add to their universe. Are there things that I may be more proficient in that could be helpful to the person I'm asking to mentor me?
On Building A Mentor Portfolio
Rashida: I think feedback is helpful. I think the more information you can give that person about what you want to achieve, what you don't want to achieve, what your interests are, what you're not interested in, it helps that person craft how they guide and mold you. And I also think it's important that you have mentors that don't necessarily work just in your field. You know, I've got a variety of mentors who work in my field, who don't work in my field, who have jobs in areas that I have no experience in, areas where I'm interested in learning more about.
And I think when you...just basically pick the person who's on the path that you want to go on, I think sometimes naturally they're going to steer you in a certain direction and I think that's why you can't necessarily have one mentor with one direction and one focus. You need to have almost a portfolio of people where you can pull different things out of each person…. There are certain people I go to for certain things, and I go to this person for something else, and maybe I'll go to two people and compare notes. You have to be that kind of thoughtful and methodical about it and not put all of your eggs in one basket, because you could not always get the best advice if you're only relying on one person's perspective.
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