Greg is in a rut. Why a mentor can help him.

Lory Fischler — №22 with Crystal Paine

In a rut

He is working hard — too hard in his mind — but nothing is happening to his career. He has earned a reputation as a reliable workhorse, so his boss always dumps the hardest, most challenging, labor-intensive jobs on him and his team. While it is flattering that he is the “go-to” guy, he feels overlooked. His manager routinely emails Greg his performance reviews and spends face time with employees who have real performance issues. Greg rarely gets his own one-on-one time with his boss, and if he does, it is to discuss the project at hand — never to talk about Greg’s future.

Do any of Greg’s issues resonate with you?

Do you feel like your career is stalled and your current assignments have lost their appeal?

Are you missing opportunities to show what you can do?

Are you trying to fast track your learning but your supervisor doesn’t give you time or attention?

Are you confused about your career path and the best way to achieve your goals?

Do you need a good listener to bounce ideas off?

You might want to shake things up by finding a mentor to help you develop yourself so you can move forward.

Why Greg can benefit from a mentor

Those who engage in mentoring relationships are less stressed, learn more quickly, increase their productivity, and create safety nets for themselves. They make better decisions about their careers and are adept at finding the right mentor to help them navigate their organization.

Who makes for a good mentor?

There are senior people in Greg’s organization that he looks up to who have achieved a level of professionalism that he aspires to. However, level of achievement and prestige are not the only criteria to consider. Here are some important factors Greg might consider in choosing his mentor:

Making the ask — without the fear

Not surprisingly, Greg is timid about having to ask a senior leader to be his mentor. He has a lot of voices in his head telling him why it is a stupid idea.

“Why would they want to work with me?”
“What if they don’t think I am smart enough?”
Or, “who the hell is this guy?”

It helps to remember that most successful leaders attribute much of their own success to their own mentors. Remember, too, that mentors get something back in return. In fact, most mentors enjoy the opportunity to connect with younger employees and learn about different areas of the organization. They feel rewarded knowing their experience, ideas and wisdom are valued. And, they enjoy watching someone develop as a result of their efforts. It is personally flattering to be asked to be a mentor.

The actual ask

Talk about your career goals, aspirations and areas for development.

Ask them about their struggles early in their career.

Share why you want them to be your mentor — without being overly solicitous.

Ask them if they would have the time (an hour/month, for example) to meet to help you work on your development.

Discuss how you might make the relationship work and what you would expect or need from each other.

Remember, if they turn you down, ask them to recommend someone else.

Mentoring can make a significant difference in Greg’s future — and it can make a big difference for you too! Don’t let fear and doubt get in the way of seeking a mentor who will challenge you to be your best. Dare to make the ask, and you will soon be on your way.

Photo: Flickr / Charlievdb CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lory fischler

Lory Fischler

A senior associate with Leadership Development Services, a consulting firm that specializes in leadership and mentoring and the associate director of its Center for Mentoring Excellence. She is a dynamic, insightful and seasoned professional with over 25 years’ experience in consulting, training and coaching clients from a diverse array of organizations, including Fortune 500, healthcare, manufacturing, government and nonprofit. Lory is the co-author of The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You and Starting Strong: A Mentoring Fable due to be released in October of 2014.

Leadership Development Services Website Visit the Center of Mentoring Excellence