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Ask HR: How to Find a Mentor


SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, answers HR questions each week.

Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like him to answer? Submit it here.

 

Having embarked on my journey in industrial design just over a year ago, I’m seeking guidance from a seasoned professional who can help me navigate the unique challenges of this field. How can I identify such a mentor and approach them for guidance? —Roger

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Congratulations on starting your journey in industrial design! Seeking guidance from a seasoned professional is a great initiative to advance your career. Here are some tips to identify and approach a mentor effectively:

  1. Leverage your educational network. Reach out to your trade school, college, or university instructors. They often have extensive networks and can recommend experienced professionals in the field. Engage with your institution’s alumni association. Alumni can be a valuable resource for mentorship and professional connections.
  2. Research and identify potential mentors. Look for professionals who have significant expertise in industrial design. Read industry publications and follow leading designers on social media and review their work to find those who inspire you. Join online forums, social media groups, and platforms such as LinkedIn, where industrial designers discuss trends and share advice. Engage in these communities to identify potential mentors.
  3. Attend industry events. Participate in industry conferences, workshops, and seminars. These events provide excellent opportunities to meet experienced professionals and demonstrate your willingness to learn. Attend networking events geared explicitly toward industrial design. These gatherings can help you connect with professionals interested in mentoring.
  4. Join professional organizations. Become a member of professional organizations such as the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). Many of these organizations offer mentoring programs or resources to help you find experienced professionals who are interested in mentoring newcomers.
  5. Approach potential mentors. Once you’ve identified potential mentors, contact them with a clear and respectful message. Explain why you admire their work and how you believe they can assist you in your career development. Ask for an initial conversation to discuss the possibility of mentorship. Be specific about what you hope to gain and how you’re willing to follow through on their guidance. Acknowledge that their time is valuable and express your commitment to making the most of the mentoring relationship.
  6. Demonstrate your commitment. Come to your conversations prepared with specific questions and topics you want to discuss. Show that you’re serious about your professional development. Act on their advice and suggestions. Mentors are more likely to invest their time if they see you’re proactive and dedicated. Let them know how their guidance has helped you grow.
  7. Be flexible and open. Understand that mentorship can take many forms. You might have several mentors who provide different types of guidance. Be open to receiving advice from multiple sources. Mentorship can evolve over time. Be flexible with your expectations and willing to adapt as the relationship develops.

By following these steps, you can effectively identify and approach a mentor who can help you navigate the unique challenges of industrial design. Best of luck on your search!

We offer competitive salaries for our industry and do fairly well hiring new employees. However, we still struggle to keep employees long term. What are some benefits options that could help improve employee retention? —Nelson

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Employers in a competitive labor market often seek every advantage to attract, retain, and engage employees. Competitive salaries are crucial, but offering a robust and appealing benefits package is equally essential for long-term employee retention. There are several benefits options that can help improve employee retention:

  • Generous paid time off. Provide ample vacation days and sick leave to help employees maintain a healthy work/life integration. Offer additional personal days that employees can use at their discretion.
  • Flexible and remote work options. When feasible, allow employees to work from home, either full time or part time, to accommodate personal needs. Offer flexible working hours to help employees manage their schedules more effectively.
  • Paid family leave. Provide paid parental leave for new parents, including adoption leave. Offer leave options for employees who need to care for sick family members.
  • Health and wellness programs. Ensure quality health care coverage, including medical, dental, and vision plans. Offer mental health support through counseling services and wellness programs. Provide access to fitness centers, wellness programs, and health screenings.
  • Retirement savings and planning. Offer competitive 401(k) plans with employer-matching contributions. Provide resources and workshops on financial planning and retirement savings.
  • Professional and career development. Offer continuous learning opportunities such as workshops, courses, and certifications. Reimburse tuition costs to support employees in furthering their education.
  • Employee recognition and rewards. Implement systems for employee recognition and peer-to-peer acknowledgment. Offer rewards and bonuses for exceptional performance.
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs). Provide access to confidential counseling services for personal and work-related issues through an EAP. These can also offer support for financial planning and legal matters.
  • Family care benefits. Provide child care support or subsidies to help employees manage family responsibilities. Offer resources and support for employees caring for elderly family members.
  • Additional perks. Provide discounts on company products or services. Offer commuting benefits such as transportation subsidies or parking allowances.

Your benefits offerings should be feasible for your business model and valuable to your workforce. Assess your employees’ needs and priorities through surveys or feedback sessions and track usage of each benefit to determine which offerings work best. A customizable benefits package lets employees choose the options that best match their needs, enhancing satisfaction and loyalty.

A comprehensive and appealing benefits package can also reduce turnover rates. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their well-being and offers appealing rewards, helping position your company as an employer of choice in a competitive industry.

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