Everyone can benefit from a mentor; mentoring employees offers guidance, helps reframe situations, and provides candid feedback all while in a safe environment to express yourself and learn from each other.
It isn’t always easy to ask for help. Or even recognize you need it. That’s OK. No one ever improved without putting in the work. As the saying goes, “Just because you have a kid, doesn’t mean you know how to be a parent.” So, what do we do? We read books. We ask other people. We actively participate. We assess our progress. We set goals. We build the relationship and improve.
And it’s the same with a career. You want to improve. You want a promotion. You want to earn more.
But how? If your company offers a mentorship program, start there. Why? Because its free!
Seriously, at Progress we are piloting a mentorship program and I am very excited to participate, both as a mentor and a mentee. I have a passion for personal growth and being aware of how I see and interpret things, how others see and interpret situations and constantly learning from those observations.
I am an avid podcast and audio book listener on many topics for personal growth and self-help (I’ll share some resources on my top picks at the end). I have also participated in these types of mentor programs at previous companies. Some of the key things you gain from a mentorship program are:
Any good mentorship relationship should start with goal setting so both the mentor and the mentee are on the same page for what they are trying to achieve and to make sure the relationship has focus. I’ve noticed with my mentee and with the goals he wants to achieve, I am pushing myself to have better habits such as daily goal setting and scheduling time for myself to prepare for our meetings. These are tactics I’ve shared with him on better time management but wasn’t living by them as diligently as I could be. I am now, and we even created a daily goal setting tracker to hold us both accountable to each other.
Another area for any mentor session and mentoring employees, is best practices for networking. Building strong relationships is key, but how do you get the face time or keep in touch, especially in the middle of a pandemic? We discussed ways to quickly say hello over LinkedIn to keep contacts fresh, since you never know when someone you used to work with might be able to help or support you in the future.
Chief Legal Officer Steve Faberman is a proud and enthusiastic participant in the mentorship program at Progress. Bringing more than 25 years of professional experience to his role as a mentor, Steve sees it as an opportunity to not only help the next wave of leadership for the company, but also to keep growing as an executive himself.
“The best mentor/mentee relationships are ones where both participants are open-minded and willing to learn from the other,” he said. “If a mentor presumes they have nothing to learn from their mentee, the relationship will be too one-sided to truly be helpful to the mentee. In fact, sometimes the mentor doesn’t fully realize how much they are getting out of their dialogue with their mentee until they discover that they are applying some lesson they picked up from their mentee in another situation.”
For my role as a mentee, the goals with my mentor were focused on my executive visibility and communication. We spent much of our time discussing observations of executive’s communication styles, presentation tactics, what works well for some and not others and what might work well for me. This relationship also provided me a safe place to share some difficult moments and get the guidance and wisdom to work through them.
You don’t have to be part of a mentorship program to have a mentor, but it does make it easier. You get to meet someone within your company you may not have otherwise worked with, and I am loving getting to know the two people I am actively working with.
I am proud of the relationships I’ve built during this pilot program and am excited to continue them after. Having a mentor within your company can add valuable context that you might not get from an external mentor.
A corporate mentorship program creates a space for employees who want to push themselves to improve and gives individuals who have experience for themselves to share the knowledge with others. I strongly encourage everyone to participate if a program is available. You need to have a safe place that is open and honest. You also need to be willing to accept feedback so you can grow and learn.
What are you afraid of? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be when you grow up? Those are big questions that need a safe place to land when you are starting to think about them and what better place to do it than with a mentor.
How do you get started? I would start by asking your HR team if there is an existing program to mentor employees and if not, what they might need to start one. You could also start identifying leaders in your company you admire and actively reach out. It isn’t easy at first but the worst that could happen is they say no, and you move on.
Externally, you could also look for local networking opportunities such as MassTLC or others in your area. If you want to start on your own, that is OK as well, and I’ve gathered a list of my favorite resources to help you get started and inspire you to keep going.
I mentioned in the beginning that I love self-help, here are some of my favorite resources that have inspired me along the way:
Kate is responsible for leading Progress’ web presence and digital marketing activities. Kate has worked in the digital marketing space for over 10 years with expertise in web operations, web design, web development, search engine optimization, paid search, A/B testing, personalization, and more. Kate previously led the Digital Marketing team at Acquia, and graduated from the New England Institute of Art with a BS in Interactive Media Design.
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