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Stagnating At Work? Seek Out A Mentor

Jun 25, 2008
For the past five years, I took pride in the fact that I was always the youngest manager at the annual Regional Managers Sales Conference.

Something was surely wrong and I was ignorant about it. I took time off to find out what the reason was for my not moving ahead. Sometimes it's a good idea to take a few steps back to introspect and analyze dispassionately as to why you are not getting anywhere.

I decided to speak to my senior VP, Don Smith - Head of Network Development.

What's Going On?

Don was not my immediate superior, but was in charge of network development while I was Regional Sales Manager. He had in the past shown a lot of interest in my performance and had always shared his experiences as a young manager in our organization with me. I knew I could trust Don and sought an appointment with him. He asked me to accompany him to the golf course on the weekend.

We met on Sunday morning, and as we went around the golf course, Don explained to me the finer points of getting the swing right, perceiving the distance the golf ball had to travel, the direction, how to factor in the wind speed, etc.

By the time we got to the 18th hole, a few cobwebs had cleared from my mind. He invited me to the member's bar for a drink, and we sat down to discuss my situation. He gave listened to me patiently and made a few suggestions; occasionally, he would crack a joke to lighten the atmosphere.

We left the bar after three hours, but not before I promised to meet him every two weeks.

Over the next few months, we kept meeting as agreed. I noticed that my understanding of my potential was beginning to change, and the need to challenge my abilities grew stronger. By the end of six months I had found my true calling - Project Management.

I was truly fortunate to have understood the need for help and to have taken the necessary steps in changing the course of my career. What about you? Don't you feel the need for a mentor?


Greek mythology describes mentor as Odysseus' trusted counselor, in whose guise Athena became the guardian and teacher of his son Telemachus. Since then the word mentor has become synonymous with adviser, master, guide, and preceptor.

Mentors help in the process of transition of an individual, or mentee, to attain his or her goals through guidance, counseling coaching and imparting knowledge. The process of mentoring has three beneficiaries: the primary beneficiary is the mentee, who grows in their job and furthers their career; the mentor also benefits from mentoring by gaining an ally and developing a long lasting relationship with the mentee.

The organization gains by way of reduced employee turnover, increased productivity, and good interpersonal relations among employees. Mentoring also helps organizations to build a strong management team to take on future challenges.

By actively seeking out a mentor, you will ultimately improve your career. You'll also prove that you are an asset to your company - and as a result, you'll hardly become expendable.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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