by Susan Murphy, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Want to hone a skill and enhance your performance? Now may be the perfect time to recruit your next coach or mentor. Most successful men and women can quickly and gratefully recite names of those who have helped them along their career path.

With time at a premium in this rapidly changing world, by carefully selecting a mentor or a coach, you can develop “just-intime” skills in areas where you need help NOW! Some tips to consider: Determine your goals and areas where you’d like to improve. For example, the most frequently requested areas from our clients are leadership, communication and conflict management, selling across gender lines, and “taming” an alpha male/female. Once you’ve targeted your goals, consider potential mentors all around you: colleagues, boss, someone in another area of your organization, someone outside of your organization. A broad range of mentoring relationships will give you different perspectives. Cultivate the relationship. Call and meet for lunch. Talk about why you feel you need help in a specific area and why you believe she would be ideal. Being a mentor is a commitment of time and energy, so your first choice may decline your request. Even if he declines, he will most likely be flattered by your request. Agree how your relationship will work how often you’ll meet, what you’ll focus on, issues of confidentiality. Ask about helpful books, tapes, periodicals. To return the favor, ask if there is some way your mentor could use your help. One male executive lamented that after he meets with one of his mentees, he’s exhausted while she’s energized. I gently advised him that he’s not supposed to “rescue” his protege, but support her. Celebrate success together! Be respectful, appreciative and treat any success that comes your way as a joint achievement.