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More on Mentoring

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What do you need to raise your profile within your company and community of practice:  a coach?  a mentor? a sponsor?

Many employers offer coaching, where a professional is retained to enhance your own ability to solve problems.  The coach recommends ways for you to learn new personal and/or professional behaviours and helps you set goals for achieving new levels of success.  In turn, you must be committed to making the recommended changes and to doing the work.  More and more employees are now investing in their own career coach to supplement whatever support might be offered (or not!) by their employer.  

Many professional associations have established mentoring programs over the last few years where the mentor offers advice and feedback based on personal experience as and when the mentee requests it.  Having a mentor to hold up the mirror and act as a sounding board is an excellent resource. But sometimes formal mentoring programs are too structured and, if the chemistry between mentor and mentee isn’t quite right, the results may not meet expectations.  

Now employers are looking at sponsors, an influential person who takes up your cause and talks about you, not just with you.

Deborah Gillis, Senior Vice President, Membership and Global Operations of Catalyst www.catalyst.org, has been problem solving  how to boost women’s representation in leadership and sponsorship is one possible approach.  Catalyst identified:

  • Women are as likely as men to get mentoring
  • Mentoring does not provide the same career benefits to women as to men
  • Women do not necessarily get the same kinds of mentors as men

Two 2012 reports can be downloaded from Catalyst’s web site:

  • Kimberly-Clark Corporation – Fostering Talent Development through Sponsorship
  • Women and Men in Canadian Capital Markets:  An Action Plan for Gender Diversity (a number of Canadian financial institutions participated) 

Catalyst’s research suggests that women may be promoted based on proven performance while men get ahead based on the potential they offer.  What women, in particular, need is a senior leader with influence who intervenes in succession planning conversations and is prepared to  to put his or her credibility on the line and say:  I’m confident she’s ready for this opportunity

So…do you wait for your employer to establish a sponsorship program or do you take charge of your own future?

Samantha and Marc Hurwitz, in their FlipSkills newsletter, www.flipskills.com  showcase a 6 dimensional frame to guide you as you determine what you need and want to further your career.  Check it out;  the questions will get you thinking!

 If your employer offers coaching, mentoring and/or sponsorship programs, actively engage in them.  If your employer doesn’t offer such programs, consider what combination of resources you need and want to further your career and find ways to access them.  They’re a wise ”investment” much more than a ”cost”!