20 September 2023 |

need a mentor?

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

Check this – 60% of new managers say the stress of their promotion was second only to experiencing a divorce.

Sadly, I’m not surprised.

Most of the people I’ve seen promoted into management positions have never gone through any kind of training or readiness program before stepping into the role. And they’re just expected to magically “get it”. 

No, but seriously…

Mentorship matters

Some people might be totally fine with not getting the training and coaching needed to be and feel effective at their jobs. 🚨Spoiler alert: if you fall into this category, this ain’t the newsletter for you.

Buuuutttt, if you’re the kind of manager who wants to be and feel effective but aren’t getting the support you need from your employer, having a great mentor can make a world of difference

(*Cough* 75% of leaders say mentoring played a key role in their success *cough*).

Step #1: Identify your development areas

Maybe there’s a skill you want to improve – like giving feedback – or a project you’ll need to manage but don’t have any experience in. Whatever the skill or experience gap, take note of where you have room for improvement.

🏀Assist: Take the time to define the “why” behind your areas of improvement. Is there a specific and measurable impact you’re looking to make at work? Getting ready for your next step in your career? Or considering a transition into another field? Whatever it is, getting clear on why it’s important to develop this skill set can help with prioritizing what skills to focus on first.

Step #2: Create a list of potential mentors

Do a little research and create a list of thought leaders in the domain you want to get better at. Consider:

  • Who’s writing on the topic consistently in online channels?
  • Who’s speaking on the topic consistently in in-person or conference settings?
  • Who, at your current employer, has expertise in the area?

Step #3: Disqualify as needed

Rather than rushing to ask someone to be your mentor, take the time to see if they’re someone you can relate to.

If your potential mentor is someone who’s very active online or a thought leader in their industry, read their content, attend their webinars and events, and/or sign up for their communities.

If you’re considering an internal mentor – someone who works at your organization – speak to their teammates and close coworkers to hear what this person is like. 

Whatever way you go about it, just make sure you’re studying up on your potential mentor to see if they’re the right fit for you. 

Step #4: Look for ways to help first

Be someone who deposits value to your mentors before they deposit value to you.

If your potential mentor:

  • Posts on LinkedIn ➡️ engage with their content and share your point of view in the comments section
  • Has a community ➡️ become an active member 
  • Has monetized content ➡️pay for it

You can also deposit value to your potential mentor by sharing insights that would help them refine or improve their approach. If your potential mentor:

  • Shared a tactic online ➡️ try it out, measure the impact and then share feedback with them on how the tactic worked (or didn’t) 
  • Is a senior leader at your company ➡️ identify a quarterly objective where you can offer support or helpful insights
  • Presented while you were in attendance ➡️ let them know what resonated most with you and any takeaways you’re looking forward to putting into action. 🏆Bonus points if you follow up with them to share how applying those takeaways helped you.

Step #5: Ask for a 1:1 convo

Once you’ve done the work to refine your potential mentor list and looked for ways to deposit value to your mentors, you should feel really confident in asking your potential mentor to meet.

When it comes to making the ask to meet, I’d recommend incorporating the following elements:

  • An observation, i.e. “noticed you share a lot about the do’s and don’ts of having a difficult conversation with reps”
  • A challenge or insight, i.e. “I implemented one of your tips and it worked really well, but I’m struggling to effectively implement another one of your tips”
  • Your ask, i.e “Any chance you’d be open to a quick chat about how to overcome that challenge?”

🏀Assist: Not everyone you ask to meet with you will say yes, let alone respond. If you’re not getting the “hit” you wanted from them, continue to prospect the rest of the potential mentors on your list until you get your “yes”.

Step #6: Set next steps

This is when you secure their investment in you – this is where they start to become your mentor.

Assuming your potential mentor has shared feedback and tips you can try out, ask them if it’s okay if you two reconnect in 2-4 weeks – or however long is appropriate – to discuss how their feedback is working out for you. 

If they say no – welp, onto the next one!

If they say yes – this is someone who is mentor material!

Final Buzzer

The people I’ve had the fortune of being mentored by have played such positively significant roles in my professional and manager development – even more so than my direct supervisors. So I’m a HUGE advocate for doing the work to find the right mentor!

I’m also more than happy to support you if you have any questions or need clarification on the best way to approach finding a mentor. Just holler my way!