Make the Most of Your Mentor Relationship
Make the Most of Your Mentor Relationship With These Tips

As Regional Human Resources Director for facilities across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, BJ M. credits his career success to guidance from good mentors.

 

Here’s what he had to say about finding a mentor and developing that relationship.

What do you look for in a mentor?

“Someone who is unvarnished and authentic but relatable to me, has had some degree of similar experiences I’ve had in the past or want to have in the future, and has a reputation for delivering successful results.”

You recommend having two mentors—one within Walmart and another outside the company. Why?

“I find it important to balance advice from individuals inside and outside the company because it provides different perspectives. While internal mentors can help you decipher a situation from the company’s viewpoint, external mentors can help you decipher it from a nonbiased viewpoint, since they have no connection whatsoever to the situation.” 

How do you get a mentor?

“I’m a big proponent of emailing a prospective mentor to ask for a one-on-one intro meeting to discuss who I am (if we don’t already know each other), my objective, and my reason for why I’d like to approach a mentor/mentee relationship with that individual.

 

My advice is to be flexible with scheduling and acknowledge to yourself on the front end that establishing this relationship may not be your prospective mentor’s first and immediate priority.”

How often do you meet with your mentors?

Formal check-ins occur quarterly, but also at any moment’s notice. We have a relationship where I can connect with them anytime off schedule.” 

How high up should my mentors be?

“In my experience, mentors no more than two levels up have been able to aid me with developing plans to gain momentum for action. Mentors higher than two levels up have been more advantageous to stir thoughts that lead to the plan’s foundation and providing advice globally. They’ve also aided as sponsors and career champions.”

What are some other things associates can consider when asking for, or meeting with, a mentor?

“Play offense: Don’t wait for someone to assign a mentor to you. Go out and find one! Don’t be hesitant to ask your current or previous manager for recommendations and introductions.

 

Realize that not all great leaders are great mentors for you. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work!

 

And finally, don’t expect your mentor to set the discussion agenda and become your personal or professional problem-solver. Go to him or her with what you’d like to talk about, work on, thoughts on solutions to a problem, etc., and allow the mentor to assist you with thought leadership that you can utilize now and later in your self-service tool belt.”

About BJ: He started his Walmart career 11 years ago and quickly realized his strength was in human resources. As a Regional Human Resources Director, he serves 112 facilities and 32,000 associates in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia.