Q. Five years ago I was promoted to a director position after a few years of performing at the manager level. I’m ready to advance my career again and seek a position at the VP level. I have expressed my interests to my boss, who is the executive vice president at the company. By his lack of action, I sense that he is not interested in supporting me to further develop my career under his watch. What steps can I take to get his attention?
A. I think you need to take a step back for a moment and analyze the situation. Ask yourself these important questions and be honest with yourself.
■What is motivating you to advance your career at this time?
■Why do you think you are ready to step up to the next level in your career?
■What have you accomplished in the last few years that prove you are ready to advance?
■What values do you bring to the game?
■Why do you think your boss is not interested in helping you?
I’m a big fan of mentors and have witnessed great success stories over the years with professionals who work with mentors to further develop their careers.
No matter how much we grow or change, one aspect of our being remains the same. We all still look to those who have come before us to serve as good examples. As young professionals, we seek out mentors. But, as with everything in life, we need to make good decisions and choices in selecting the people we want to emulate. A good mentor can make a world of difference in how we succeed and progress in our careers.
Keep in mind that mentors can serve a variety of purposes. They may offer us advice and guidance in getting ahead in the world, and also give us encouragement and even push us when we need a gentle shove. They also may simply lend us their ears when we need to talk with someone. You may want your mentor to offer advice on subjects such as continuing education and advancing your career.
A good mentor may also be able to help you with networking and making connections with others in your field who might help you. Or, you may want your mentor only to listen to you and offer advice when you need to talk with someone neutral.
Interview a mentor just like you would any other critical hire. Look for a mentor that you admire, who possesses a style that you wish to adopt. A few things for you to consider when searching for a mentor:
■Do they have progressive career development at the level you are seeking?
■Have they experienced similar challenges that you want advice on?
■Does the mentor have the same values as you?
■Does their working style compliment yours?
■Does the mentor have time to share with you?
When the time comes to actually ask someone to mentor you, it’s a good idea to explain why you selected the person as a potential mentor and how you would like the person to help you.
Don’t take it personally if you’re turned down. The person most likely has other responsibilities that would stand in the way of being there for you. Ask for a referral and don’t give up. Be patient. Finding a mentor takes some work and even involves some risk. You’ll find that the benefits that you reap from a relationship with a good mentor will be well worth your efforts.
I wish you success on your journey.
Jennifer Laxton is the CEO , Executive Coach and Strategic Workforce Planner with ESA in Santa Rosa www.esa.com. ESA is an executive search and consulting company. You can reach her at 707-217-4535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.