Mentoring remains an important way for project management professionals to expand their knowledge base (6 reasons-mentoring still matters), but sometimes your needs go beyond what a mentor can provide. We’ve outlined a few instances where a different kind of expert might have the information or expertise you’re seeking.
Theoretical knowledge is something that a typical mentor might not be able to offer. Depending on the type of information you’re looking for, it could simply be outside your mentor’s body of experience. It’s also possible that separating hands-on tutoring from more abstract discussions isn’t your mentor’s strong suit. As an alternative, consider if a seminar or conference would offer the sort of information you want.
Straight talk may be uncomfortable to receive from a mentor, or uncomfortable for them to give. If you have a longstanding or close relationship with your mentor, there’s a possibility they’ll want to couch negative feedback or criticisms. A specialist such as a career development consultant might be better positioned to cut straight to any unproductive habits or skill gaps that are keeping you from moving forward.
Niche skills could be outside what even a highly experienced mentor can teach you. This is especially true if certification or other requirements call for specialized or accredited project management training courses. Look for educational offerings—industry groups or local universities might be an option—that are tailored to your particular need, and are recognized by any regulatory body you’ll be seeking certification from.
Conflicts of interest can sometimes arise if a mentor is in their mentee’s reporting line or has input into advancement or disciplinary decisions. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be your mentor, but it could lead you to want advice from an alternative source now and then. An experienced career coach can help you identify, prepare for, and land the job you want.
Also check out (MENTORING MISTAKES SMART Project TeamS MAKE)