Mentoring programs are well-established in many companies. How do I get the most out of them?

If your company has a formal mentoring program, participate fully.

If your company has a formal mentoring program, participate fully. The program will give you the opportunity to be guided through challenges. It will also allow you to build skills and acquire new tools.

To get the most from this experience, start by setting realistic expectations. Talk with your mentor about what you want to get from the experience and what your top issues are. Be open to feedback, be professional, and follow through on commitments.

Be proactive. Your mentor is often busier than you are, so don't be afraid to initiate contact. Finally, be open and honest. Speak up if your mentor is doing something that bothers you, such as initiating unreasonable frequent contact or not answering your questions. Remember, the relationship should be mutually beneficial.

If your company does not provide a formal mentoring program, take the initiative to seek out a manager - preferably not a direct manager - that you admire and from whom you think you can learn. Ideally, a mentor is someone that is different enough from you that it will allow you to master new skills and develop professionally.

Zelda Freud is HR manager at RF Binder.

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