The definition of a mentor is a wise and trusted adviser or guide and every working mother should have one.
One of the many potential consequences of returning to work as a mother is the onset of parochialism within the working environment. This is especially the case if the hours of the working week are reduced in order to provide the working mum with some flexibility. Attempting to do, very often, what remains a full time job, in part time hours requires a strong sense of focus and discipline. Cast aside are the water cooler catch-ups and the long lunches as well as the chance to engage in wider business issues whilst head down furiously typing at the laptop focused on the job in hand. What role a mentor may offer in this instance is as a provider of perspective. They will enable a working mum to see the connections between her role and wider business contexts which can only aid her networking opportunities.
As a mentor will be, and should be, someone more senior than themselves, a mentor can take the role of a sponsor, especially when the mentor works within the same company or industry. They will, over time, get to know the person they mentor and be able to promote them and support them amongst their senior peers. Even if the mentor does not have a direct sphere of influence within the working mum’s job, they will be able to offer their long list of contacts at various stages when required.
When women become mothers, one thing that often improves is the ability to make decisions. Whether it is because of the condensed amount of time available to them or the stark reality that that are now responsible for lives other than their own, mums just seem to be able to get things done. This can be a great asset in the work place, where incisiveness and quick thinking are cherished and sought after skills. Reflection too, however, needs to find a place within the balance. A mentor that can act as a coach or a sounding board can be one of the most valuable tools a professional working mum can have. They will help shape her ideas without leading or dictating and allow her the space to inspect her situation from all the possible angles.
So if you are a professional working mum, how do you go about the process of finding a mentor? First of all decide, what the main role you would like your mentor to take on for you, this will help narrow down the list of candidates. Try to remain open minded about the type of character you would like to work with, often those with an opposite personality type to your own can provide the greatest challenge and perspective. Then all you have to do is to be bold and ask, ensuring that you are as clear as you can be of your expectations of the mentoring partnership.
Do you have a mentor? Let us know and do share your tips below and don’t forget to visit Coaching Mums to view our latest FREE resources for helping you achieve more balance in your life. If you’d like a little inspiration and support delivered free to your inbox, click here to sign up for my free ezine; Inspire.