Hustle + Finance
One of the most common pieces of career advice that I’ve received to accelerate my career growth is to get a mentor. I often found this advice to be difficult to implement. How do I select a mentor? Who do I ask? What do I say to them when I get one? These are the various questions that entered my mind whenever I received this advice. Over the years I’ve been mentored by several people and I’ve had great experiences and other experiences that were a complete waste of our time.
If you are in a situation where you have been assigned a mentor and are not really sure what to do next, here are some things that you can implement to achieve progress:
Schedule your meetings
In your mentorship do you find yourself contacting your mentor when you are stuck on something and then quickly realize that you haven’t spoken to your mentor in three months? I have been there before. In my experience I’ve had the best progress when I meet my mentor regularly. There is no magic formula on how often you should meet. It just depends on what you are looking to achieve. What works best for me is meeting with my mentor every three weeks. I literally put a reoccurring meeting on the calendar for a six month period and make adjustments as needed along the way. These regularly scheduled meetings have helped me stay focused on implementing the advice my mentor has given in our previous interaction.
Now that you have a regular meeting scheduled on the calendar, it’s time to figure out what you will talk about. The objective of a mentorship is to excel in a particular subject area that you believe your mentor is successful in. With that said, be prepared to talk about your goals. Also, depending on the method you are meeting in (e.g. phone call, in person, golf), having an agenda can be helpful so that you can make sure you cover everything you wish to discuss. Remember progress is the goal, so you want to be as efficient as possible. In my experience I share my goals with my mentor and the objective of our discussions is inquiring with my mentor the steps I should take to accomplish them.
Ask questions. Avoid finding yourself talking the entire time. Your mentor has a lot of knowledge on how you can achieve similar success. Your mentor will have plenty of stories to tell you of how they solved issues while trying to achieve their goals. Remember that you as the mentee drive the relationship and the experience can be whatever you want it to be. You want to avoid putting the entire responsibility of carrying the conversation on your mentor. It is not a good use of their time and eventually you will find out that you are aren’t making any progress. It is important that you never assume that your mentor doesn’t want you to ask a certain question. The whole point of this relationship is to learn from their experiences.
It can be intimidating being in the presence of your mentor, especially if you get the opportunity to be paired up with someone who is very senior to you. The best thing that you can do is keep in mind that your mentor was in a similar position as you at some point in their life. Your mentor either figured things out by trial and error or they themselves had guidance from a mentor. Try to relax when you are meeting with your mentor and absorb as much as you can. Your mentor is not there to judge, they are their to help you, try to remind yourself of that if you begin to feel intimidated.
Every time you meet with your mentor make sure that you are showing progress. Earlier I mentioned bringing your goals to the conversation. As one of your agenda items, be prepared to discuss the progress of your goals and how you implemented the advice you received in previous conversations. Also, don’t be afraid to say what didn’t work for you. Your mentor might be able to give you other ideas to help you. The last thing you want to do is come to the conversation having made no progress. It will eventually become clear to your mentor that you are not taking their time seriously. A benefit to showing progress is that your mentor will see the results of their advice and will want to do more to see you succeed.
Being in a mentorship can be challenging, especially when you’ve been assigned a mentor at your company and you don’t know each other. Once you get to know one another it is much easier for the relationship to take off. Until that happens, the steps above can help you achieve progress.
Do you have a mentor? What are some of the challenges you have seen in that relationship? What’s worked well in your relationship?
Previously posted in the Huffington Post
Do you feel stuck in your role at your company? Have you been performing the same function longer than you can stand it? Do you ever wonder how it is easy for other people to advance so quickly in their career and you have found yourself in the same position for more than a few years?
I was inspired to write about this because I saw a post on Reddit of a person complaining about how they were not promoted at their company after giving them 10 years of service. The author of the post was seeking advice on when she can stop being loyal to her company. When I read the post I immediately thought that the author of this post should take an internal inventory of how she has handled her career. In other words taking responsibility for her role in getting stuck in her career. I know this sounds harsh but what we allow will continue. As a matter of fact when things happen that we didn’t expect, it is always good practice to ask yourself how you contributed to the result. You will be amazed that most of the time there is something you did or did not do that contributed to the outcome.
So, why are you not getting promoted? Below are five reasons why.
You aren’t connecting with the right people.
Ask yourself, who are the people in your network? How many people are you in regular contact with that can make or break your career? These questions are important to ask yourself because in order for one to advance in their career, there must be someone there helping them to make it happen. Since we were very young we have been told that as long as you work hard you will get recognized through compensation and promotion. That is not true, at least not anymore. Having the right relationships are key and nurturing them is very important to continue to move ahead in your career.
You don’t take feedback well.
People who fall in this category usually are defensive. Every time a person tells them something that they can improve on, the recipient always provides an excuse or reason for their performance, rather than asking for advice on how to improve. As one of the partners in my firm has said time and time again, feedback is a gift. Given that we live an a culture where being polite is the norm, the fact that someone is being candid and giving you feedback is great. The truth is that nobody wants to hear about their flaws, however when you are interested in excelling in your career it is beneficial to know what your blindspots are so that you can improve them. The only way to know what they are is to receive feedback from those who work with you.
You don’t self-promote.
Many people don’t feel comfortable self-promoting because it may come off as being arrogant. This discomfort unfortunately can be a detriment in the advancement of your career. In my experience as a consultant I learned that it is important to self promote because I found that everyone in my firm is too busy to know what everyone is working on at all times. Therefore when you are networking among your colleagues avoid being modest about the value you are adding to your company. These discussions can go a long way as the people you are connecting with may recall the conversation you had with them come promotion time.
If you are a person who wants an interesting and dynamic career, planning what you will do next is key. Sitting and waiting for opportunities is the best way to remain stuck in your career. Setting a goal and having a plan on how to achieve your goals is key to moving to the next level. An example of setting a goal to advance your career could be setting a time frame for when you want to complete a certification that gives you the qualifications for a role that has more responsibility.
You don’t do more than what is in your job description.
In my experience companies value when you do more in your role than what is in your job description. An example of this is sharing your ideas on how you can service your clients at a lower cost to the company or how your teams can work more efficiently. These kinds of ideas are highly valued by employers. This demonstrates your commitment to your company and that you have vision which is characteristic of a leader.
These are just a few reasons why you may find yourself stuck in your career.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in your career? What are some actions you took to move forward?
Previously published in the Huffington Post