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MENTORS- don't bet with just one person
Human Resources » Coaching & Mentoring

Chrm Message From: madure Total Posts: 278 Join Date: 06/06/2006
Rank: Coach Post Date: 20/06/2006 19:16:15 Points: 1440 Location: Sri Lanka

Whether you're just starting your career or have reached middle management, anyone can benefit from having mentors. Even CEOs have people they can bounce ideas off, and with whom they can discuss their next career move or how to handle that disgruntled shareholder who wants their heads.

If your employer doesn't have a formal mentoring program, you'll have to go it alone and find one for yourself. It could be your boss, a coworker, a person in another department or even someone outside the workplace.

"It should be people that have high expectations, understand the business you're in and have great integrity," says Eileen O'Neill Odum, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Commonwealth Telephone Enterprises .

Her first mentor? Her boss in the job she landed after college. Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a boss that also makes a good mentor. But even if you don't, many times you can learn what not to do from that person.

Your mentor doesn't have to be someone you work with; a mentor could come from an organization you belong to, a charity you volunteer with or an alumni network. For example, the Committee of 200, an organization of women leaders in corporate America and female entrepreneurs, runs a mentoring program for women business owners to help take their business to the next level.

Gay Warren Gaddis, CEO of ad agency Think Tank 3, says she learned a lot from a small-business owner who she mentored via the "Make Mine a $Million Business" program, a collaboration between Count-Me-In for Women's Economic Independence, the Women's Leadership Exchange and OPEN, the small-business network from American Express.

Nor does mentoring have to wait until you've started your career.
Tena Clark, CEO of DMI Music and Media Solutions, found her first mentor when she was a teen and became pen pals with legendary songwriter and producer Hal Davis. Years later when she was starting her career as a composer, she met him and asked if he remembered the 13-year-old from Mississippi who had written him. He did, and he gave her career advice and introduced her to others in the music industry. Her career took off.
Mentoring should be a two-way street. It's not all about you, your problems and your career. Think about why you need a mentor and how the mentor would benefit from spending time with you. Then approach the person, but don't come across as needy.
Realize that as you work your way up the corporate ladder, your mentors will change.
"It may be someone you outgrow. The dark side of mentorship is that they may begin to see you as a competitor. You must be able to change mentors as you grow," says Larraine Segil, a partner at consultancy Vantage Partners.

Segil, who serves on the Entrepreneurs Board of Advisors for the UCLA Anderson School of Management, mentors students at the university. She has her mentees make appointments with her and tells them they should be prepared before they get to her office for what they want to discuss.

This brings up an important point: Don't expect your mentor to be available whenever a crisis springs up or you have a dilemma. Don't barge into their office and start whining that your cubicle mate got the assignment you were destined for. Find out when they have some free time--maybe offer to buy them lunch or an after-work drink--and then still don't whine. Instead, focus on getting advice on how you can better position yourself to get that plum assignment.

You may be in the engineering department but always wanted to try your hand at marketing. Find someone you admire in marketing, approach the person and tell them you'd like to learn about their department and their work. Don't be bashful. Remember: Everyone likes to talk about themselves and what they're good at.

"Don't place your bet with just one person--make ten bets of ten or five bets of five," says Odum.

From Ideas expressed by Julie Watson

Prof.Lakshman Madurasinghe MA.,MS(Psy).,PhD., Chartered Fellow CIPD-Lond.,
Consultant Psychologist/Attorney


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