Thursday, August 4, 2011

Find a Mentor

A mentor remains a key element to avoiding losing your job.

Dwight’s Story

Dwight started working as an engineer at a major gas company. Early in his career, the company assigned Dwight to work for a manager with great upward potential. This manager decided to mentor Dwight.Dwight, understanding his manager’s passion, learned to play golf. Their professional collaboration blossomed on the golf course. Lessons taught on the golf course helped Dwight understand the written and unwritten rules, and corporate culture of the gas company. The understanding gained from his mentor improved Dwight’s performance.

In addition, as the manager’s career soared, he pulled his protégé along with him. The mentor/protégé relationship did not rest solely on personal friendship, but on Dwight’s increased professional skills, ability to fit into the corporation, and the return on investment. Over time they became more equals, although the mentor continued to hold positions superior to Dwight’s.

Dwight passed what he learned on to others as he mentored many others. Dwight retired from the gas company a wealthy man and as an executive vice president for the same gas company.

Role and Traits of a Mentor

A mentor provides essential guidance, tutoring, and nurturing to your career. defines a mentor as a “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher; and an influential senior sponsor or supporter.” Finding your own influential senior sponsor or supporter not only secures job, but opens possibilities for promotion and advancement.

New employees, including CEO’s, should try to identify a mentor when starting at a new company. The mentor orients the employee to the written and unwritten rules. The mentor clarifies the vagaries of the corporate culture. The mentor also teaches the protégé the strengths, weaknesses, and status of other employees.

Upwardly mobile employees frequently receive mentoring from seasoned executives or board members. This process, frequently called “grooming” allows corporations to refine and vet people on the “fast track”.

Potential mentors normally are well respected members of the corporate body. They possess an innate understanding of the corporate culture developed through experience and previous mentors. The best evidence of great mentors consists in the number of former protégés who rise within the organization. 

Several organizations or publications can help you explore this vital element of success. The US Office of Personnel Management publishes an easy to read series of articles on best practices of mentoring. also refers to several excellent articles. Free Management also provides wonderful information.

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