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I recently read a post from Jim at Route To Retire. He asked his readers if they had a financial mentor. I thought about it for a good minute. Outside of my parents, I don’t really have any confidants that I go to for financial advice. Don’t get me wrong, I read a ton of blogs and try to stay abreast of the best financial advice out there. But, I don’t have a formal financial mentor. Heck, for that matter, I don’t have a mentor in general. So, it got me thinking, why don’t I have one?
Why I Don’t Have a Mentor
In the particular office that I work at, a lot of the best mentors are now retired. The ones who could potentially mentor me don’t always align with me in terms of goals and outlook on life. In many ways, I march to the beat of my own drum. I’ve taken a bit of a winding path to get to where I am today.
My Experiences with Mentors at My Workplace
Since most of the mentors that I respected have moved on, one of the biggest turnoffs that I’ve experienced is the apathy towards mentorship at my workplace. When I do sign up to be mentored by one of the current mentors at work, I am regarded as just a number to them.
I tried a couple of different mentors to see if I could find the right fit. Eventually, I gave up after meeting with one multiple times, following up with him with gratitude, and then bumping into him in the hallway shortly after with no recollection of who I was. Here we had spent time together when I had shared all of my hopes and dreams in my organization, and the guy didn’t remember me at all. But, maybe that says something about me.
While I’m sure that’s not everybody in my organization, the ones that I’ve come across have been a bit underwhelming. Most of them seem more motivated to put “mentor” on their resume than to delve down deep and help.
Those Who I Mentor
Five people that I informally mentor at work have all had similar experiences as me. Our organization puts a lot of emphasis on the formalities of a mentorship including paperwork and courses in order to get recognition. So, I essentially just bypassed these hoops and agreed to be informal to navigate around these restrictions. On top of that, since I have no restrictions, I can act in my mentees’ best interests, not only in management’s best interests.
I’ve never formally requested to be on the mentor list at work, but I have been sought out by individuals that would like my perspective on work and finances. Sometimes, I don’t even know them personally. I’ve received a few virtual introductions from people outside my office that have blossomed into mentorships. Usually it is a friend of a friend or colleague, or something along those lines. Whatever way that I get to meet them, I always enjoy hearing different situations and challenges and then providing feedback.
Career and Financial Advice
A lot of the conversation has boiled down to career advice. But, I always try to sneak in financial advice as well, since that is where my passion truly lies. Of course, each one of them has different needs. While one may need to talk about how to navigate the corporate ladder, another may be concerned about how to create the perfect work-life balance, while another is looking for network contacts. I always try to make sure that they also look longterm at their financial health. Too often, I have seen people take positions because they needed more money, but the job did not align with their passion. I’m thankful to be in a situation where I can select jobs that I am excited about and not focus on the paycheck since I have become debt-free.
The crazy thing is that I now recommend pursuing jobs you are passionate about, even if you are not debt-free. I’ve received several promotions faster by taking jobs that I actually like. I’ve been able to exude my passion, and it’s evident in my output.
Benefits of a Mentor
Recently, I’ve been thinking more about how I need to refocus on finding the right mentor for me. Isaac Newton famously said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” At this point in my career, I feel like I have gone as far as I can by myself. I really could use some guidance and some outside perspective on things to navigate the political landscape in my organization.
As a manager, I read a study on the American Society for Training and Development that found that training alone increases managerial productivity by 24%. The combination of mentoring and coaching increases productivity by 88%.
Having a mentor pays off. According to HR Magazine, professionals who indicated that they had mentors earned from $5,610 to $22,450 more annually than those who did not have mentors.
So readers do you have a mentor at work? What about a financial mentor? How did you go about finding the right mentor for you? Share your thoughts below.