Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed my last blog post, "5 Ways to Impress Your CEO in the First Year." The next question to ask yourself is, "How do I know if I'm on the right track"? Well, is your W2 doubling? Is your title getting Vs and Ps added? If the answer is, “yes”, you are likely in a good place! But, what if the answer is “no”?
The ole’ saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, is still relevant. The former is certainly important. We must always exceed expectations and build our own internal brand. However, getting to the “who you know" part takes more than being good at what you do. It takes experience, guidance and mentoring.
A mentor is quite simply your career coach. Think back to your sports days. Your coach likely had three key qualities – passion, team building and a winning spirit. Business leaders, aka mentors, possess similar qualities - experience, talent acquisition and a competitive spirit.
But do you really need a mentor? When I was a HR young gun I thought I had a handle on it all, knew where I was going, and knew to get there. Over time a VP in another business unit and my internal customer naturally became a mentor to me after our many interactions with had. One day I was having a bad day and literally wanted to quit (after all, I was hot stuff and could easily get another job!)! I shot down to his office to vent. He listened. He sympathized. Then he stood up, gently walked me his door and said something memorable, “Jim, remember one thing, they replace the President every four years.” I took that advice to heart and continue to enjoy several mentoring relationships since.
How do you identify a mentor? Think about someone who has experience in your domain, is recognized as a thought leader and displays awareness of others.. I would recommend that your mentor not be directly related to, “who you know”, meaning they might not be your future manager or leader. Instead, focus on the relationships and insights that your potential mentor has with their peers (that might someday hire you). Recognize how they think, what they are like, how they get things done and what they need. Balance your mentor’s experiences and connections with your willingness to listen to their subjective thoughts, objective ideas and guidance. This will allow you to have a productive coaching relationship.
Best of all and ideally, you can have more than one mentor. Perhaps grab a leader in different parts of your organization or even outside the company. Seek an area you want to learn more about, an area you might manage in the future and connect with them. With HireVue expanding to EMEA (new office in London opening this month – woo hoo!) and APAC shortly after I am looking to add a mentor that can help me broaden internationally.
So, to sum it up- follow the advice of your mentor(s). The common thread is YOU. Your mentor can help with the psychological aspects of your game that will give you the guidance and confidence to achieve your goals!