An important aspect of building a successful career in loss prevention is finding mentors that will help guide us in our professional growth and development. But just as important is identifying the right mentors—those that will help us learn and grow in the many different areas necessary to support a healthy and enduring career in loss prevention.
One individual will not be able to meet all of your mentoring needs any more than you can fill every need of those that you come to mentor. Mentors have to come from a variety of different sources to best meet our different developmental needs. However, there are some common characteristics that we look for in our mentors:
- Trust is a huge piece of mentorship. It’s not something that can be forced or fabricated. Trust allows for honest feedback. Trust allows them to take risks and speak their mind. Trust allows you to unload or confide in your mentor. Trust allows you to make mistakes and work through them. Trust allows you to feel safe.
- Mentors have the heart of a teacher. They are willing to listen. They are capable of effectively explaining their thoughts, ideas, and actions. They are able to define the elements that lead to success and show you the way.
- Mentors allow you to learn. They understand that we can learn as much and more from our failures as we do from our successes. They are willing to give you a nudge, a shove, a hand or a shoulder when you need it—and understand when each is most appropriate.
- A mentor will have qualities that you would like to emulate or traits that you admire. They have a certain expertise, but also a certain style that meets your needs and compliments your approach. They are confident in their own abilities. They help shape your style and delivery.
- Mentors are approachable. They are open-minded, and allow flexibility. They are challenged by the mentoring process rather than intimidated.
- Mentors make themselves available. They are willing to make the commitment to regular one-on-one conversations, and keep an open door when they are needed.
- Good mentors are good listeners. They are willing to absorb your thoughts to help you find the best answers for you. They understand the value of self-discovery, and are willing to listen as we work through our questions and find our own answers.
- Mentors are willing to share their ideas and opinions. They are capable of giving us real life examples to help us find true understanding. They share their experiences and help us work through our options in order to find the best solutions.
- Mentors are willing to be critical. They are willing to tell us when and what we need to be told in order to help us grow. They are willing to tell us the things that we don’t want to hear—when we need to hear it.
- Mentors are supportive. They provide encouragement, enthusiasm and assistance when it’s needed, and even when it’s not. They’re both patient and pushy when they need to be, keeping our batteries charged without burning us out.
To best support our professional development, our mentors need to come from a number of different sources, but also a variety of different fields to support the evolving needs of a career in loss prevention. Our specialized role has particular demands that require specific training and background. However, we must also keep in mind our role in the bigger retail picture. There are those within the loss prevention field that can provide us with a certain amount of perspective on the rest of the retail world, but true understanding is still a product of real world exposure. Finding mentors in other areas of the retail business is critical to our long term growth as a professional.
However you go about choosing your mentors, it is always important to find those that fit your career model and your personality so that you can learn and grow through their example. By the same respect, it can also be valuable to consider those that do things a little differently—challenging our perspective and our way of doing things so that we can also learn to think, react and respond in different ways. There are times when differences are complimentary rather than contrasting, and can help make us better at what we do.
Ultimately, a mentor should be someone who you feel that you can work with, and can help you make progress towards your goals. Many will surface by themselves throughout the course of your career journey, while others we may have to seek out on our own. We should start by determining what it is that we hope to accomplish, consider the type of leader that we hope to be, and find those that can best help us get there.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about this and other topics designed to help build your career in loss prevention, discover the professional growth opportunities available through The Loss Prevention Foundation.
Invest in your future by exploring the benefits that LPQualfied, LPCertified, and the loss prevention certification process provide by visiting losspreventionfoundation.org