Potential Mentors Are All Around Us

Internal Executive Mentoring Resources Take a Hit

If you are feeling that your career has stagnated or hit a plateau in the past few years due to lean staffing and the tight job market, you are not alone. Recent surveys point to a decrease in employee engagement that corresponds with a drain on internal resources for professional development and mentoring. A recent blog post at fastcompany.com notes that “Today, over half of American workers effectively hate their jobs.”

The blog post goes on to quote the noted researcher and corporate productivity expert, John Gibbons. “Whether we realize it or not, workers have been under constant duress. Because of scarce resources, few opportunities for development and promotions–not to mention the fact that people often have been required to do the work of more than one person–a lot of our workforce is burnt out.“

The corporate focus on wringing out ever-higher levels of productivity combined with a reluctance to expand staff over the past few years has taken a toll on executive mentoring resources.

Yet hope does exist. Despite the current state of affairs in the job market, many companies have managed to thrive, grow and invest in their employees. Perhaps you work for one of those companies now.  Even if you do not, there are strategies you can employ to ensure that your professional advancement does not suffer.

Strategies for Leveraging Your Success

Mentors can play a dramatic role in your career, whether helping you prepare for a promotion or preventing you from being blind-sided by unexpected change. Mentors can provide timely advice and links into career opportunities before a position becomes public knowledge. In times of volatility, a mentor can provide a center of calm and help you to navigate challenging office politics.

If your company does not have a corporate executive mentoring program, you can still seek out a mentor or mentors, internally or externally. Start by identifying the type of mentoring you want now. Do you want to improve your leadership skills? Would you value the insights of a subject matter expert in your job function?

Next, think about the people you trust and admire most inside your company. Is there someone who has the ability to inspire and lead others, who manages conflict gracefully? If you can’t identify a potential mentor inside your company, think about the most energetic and respected leaders in your professional associations, alumni groups, or community organizations.

Mentoring Offers Satisfaction for Mentor and Protégé

Potential mentors are all around us. If you are hesitant to ask for help, think back to the last time you helped someone. Remember how good it felt to help?  Mentoring offers as much satisfaction as being mentored, especially when you and your mentor define clear goals and set reasonable boundaries.

Before you approach a potential mentor, stop and define your ideal mentor criteria. Know what you are looking for so you will recognize it when you see it.  Some criteria to consider: similar values and ethics, industry expertise, strategic connections, and constructive input. Most of all, finding a mentor who believes in you is vital to reaping the benefits of career acceleration and satisfaction.