James V. Pritchert

I have run many successful senior level mentoring programs while I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Finding the right mentor can mean everything to you in terms of development and advancement.

You will probably need to chase one down. In my search for program participants, I heard the same thing over and over again, “I am too busy, no time.” Obviously, there is time and the senior leaders need to acknowledge that. In one case, I approached an Undersecretary to give me some likely names. Armed with that list, I was able to tell the likely participants that they were specially named by the Undersecretary and they signed on.

I suggest that you try this approach since it is relatively painless and it will give you a rich source of potential mentors. Once you have narrowed your list of likely mentors, present them with a short list, possibly five things that you are seeking in a mentor and see if they can accommodate that. Agree on a mentoring program length, perhaps one year and decide how much time your mentor will devote to you. At least four hours per month is a good start.

It’s very important to find a mentor who will challenge you and energize you. It’s not important that you like each other, but you must have mutual respect and honesty. In other words, find someone as different from you as possible. That may be in your current organization or in another one.

Good luck.