Show Me The Way: 6 Tips On Mentoring In The Age of #MentorHer

Mentorship is the next step.Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wants to remove the blockades. Author Kim Elleser calls the hurdle for women’s advancement the sex partition. Both assert more mentorship of women by men will finally annihilate it.Elleser, author of Sex and the Office: Women, Men and the Sex Partition, writes in Forbes: “The sex partition keeps women from developing valuable mentor relationships and friendships with male managers. These same male managers, however, continue to mentor junior male employees without any concerns.”Earlier this month Sandberg announced the launch of #MentorHer along with LeanIn. She writes: “Long before the #MeToo movement, a lack of mentorship from senior leaders was already a significant barrier for women in the workplace. New numbers indicate that this is getting worse: a recent survey by Lean In and SurveyMonkey revealed that almost half of male managers in the United States are now uncomfortable participating in basic activities with women.”[bctt tweet=”#MentorHer seeks to change the role of men and women at work.” username=“takeleadwomen”]Sandberg continues, “This is a big problem, because it undoubtedly will decrease the opportunities women have at work. The last thing women need right now is even more isolation. Men vastly outnumber women as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price. Men who want to be on the right side of this issue shouldn’t avoid women. They should mentor them.”James Quincey, president and CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., released this statement: “We support mentoring women at our company because of the difference it can make at every level, across our system.  Just as important, the process of mentoring women helps us uncover and dissect the often-hidden biases that can work to hold women back. It’s not just about growth for her. It’s about growth for all of us. We support #MentorHer not just because it’s the right thing to do for women, but because it’s simply the right thing to do.”“In a survey of its clients, mentorship consultancy MicroMentor found that 83 percent of mentored businesses survived two years, compared with 74 -percent of nonmentored businesses. The same survey also found that mentored businesses were more likely to launch and had greater revenue increases than those without a mentor,” writes Jackie Zimmerman in NerdWallet. “Ultimately, you’re asking business owners who have been there and done that to share real-world best practices and help you avoid pitfalls.”Roxane Gay writes in The Lily at the Washington Post, “A good mentor or leader is someone who is confident in what they know, willing to recognize talent in those they work with, and able to give criticism constructively.” She adds, “Mentoring comes in such unexpected places and forms. There are formal and informal mentoring relationships and sometimes, a mentoring experience lasts no longer than a moment, but remains significant in someone’s life.“So how can you seek a mentor to guide you through your career decisions? And how do you behave once you have one?[bctt tweet=“How can you seek a mentor to guide you through your career decisions? And how do you behave once you have one? #MentorHer” username=“takeleadwomen”]

  1. Do not randomly go after someone you admire. High visibility leaders get a lot of asks. Do not email CEOs you do not know out of the blue and expect a good return. Inquire about possibilities from people you meet at networking events, approach someone on LinkedIn through an introduction or ask someone in your company for mentorship guidance. If none of that is possible, according to NerdWallet, “SCORE, a nonprofit that partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration, is another resource. Experienced business professionals volunteer to help new entrepreneurs through a free mentorship program that’s available in person or via email, phone or video chat. The program has 300 chapters across the country and helps roughly 140,000 small-business owners each year.”

  2. Decide what kind of mentor you are looking to engage. A subject mentor?A career mentor? A project mentor? A life mentor? That will help determine if you can even have a virtual mentor, by reading a book on the topic, or watching videos an TED talks, or if you need a person in a mentoring relationship to guide you for a longer period of time. “You have to be willing to ask for what you need from a mentor, but that requires that you know what type of mentor you’re looking for according to what your goals are for your career or business,” writes Debbie Peterson in GoErie.

  3. Find the right connection with a mentor. “Finding a mentor is like finding a spouse, coach, best friend or boss with a cold call. You have to pitch yourself in such a way that it makes them feel special and you worthy enough of their precious time. You need them but they don’t need you. Attempt to study who they are and what matters to them the most, make sure that their values match up with yours and open your mouth to ask for help and a partnership. It’s best to do these things face to face to ensure that the synergy is right,” writes Jessica LaShawn, founder of Mogul Academy, in Blavity.

  4. Be clear about your own expectations and do not act high maintenance. Monthly updates by phone is a lot to expect, quarterly input is more reasonable. Both men and women leaders are very busy. You cannot expect them to advise you on your entire life. Be very specific about what help you need and do not inundate the mentor with questions, requests and calls for help. Do not set a deadline, saying you need a response by Tuesday. Be respectful, patient and clear.

  5. 4. Never say, “Can I pick your brain?” I get this a lot from journalists starting out or anyone who wants to write a book. Go into the request with basic information. Seriously, no one wants her brain to be picked. It conjures an image of a dissection. Instead, politely ask very specific questions, and just a few at a time. Do not be open-ended with your inquiries, but instead ask a question that offers a finite response of where to go for a resource or what specific steps to take next. [bctt tweet=“When meeting with a mentor, o not be open-ended with your inquiries, but instead ask a question that offers a finite response of where to go for a resource or what specific steps to take next. #MentorHer” username=“takeleadwomen”]

  6. Be gracious and grateful. This is a gift to you, treat it as such. Mentoring you is an add on for your mentor, and likely it takes time away from other projects. Be humble, be thankful for whatever time you are offered and for whatever advice you are given. If it isn’t what you are looking for, never be rude. Perhaps find another mentor or be more explicit on what kind of help you want.

Why bother? Aren’t you smart enough to figure it all out yourself?It’s impossible to know everything and to be the only source of your information. We are all stronger together, sharing information. Think of how you feel on the first day of any job—you do not even know where the coffee pot is. You need to ask.“There’s a lot to be gained by working with a mentor, so if your company offers such a program, it pays to sign up,” writes Maurie Backman in Motley Fool. And if not, talk to your employer about instituting such a program, and pledge to pay it forward by becoming a mentor yourself — if not immediately, then once you’ve advanced in your career. It’s a great way to not only share your knowledge, but learn a thing or two along the way.”Yes, you do need guidance, but you also cannot wait for a mentor to tell you what you do. Do not use a lack of mentor as an excuse for stagnation.In a recent speech, Ava DuVernay discussed how asking permission or waiting for a mentor to tell you to goo ahead and do something can hold you back.“There is nothing to ask permission for, don’t ask for permission. Half of us are waiting for permission; someone to say okay, someone to say do it, someone to say that is a good idea, someone to give you the money, someone to give you the resources. That’s all working from a permission-based way. When I just decided I’m just going to work with what I’ve got and give myself the permission, then it really started. Once I started, I never stopped, but the starting was the hard part–just beginning with what you have…That’s the biggest tip: is to start.“She adds, “It may not be the dream project, it may not be perfect. Begin. Whatever it is. If it’s the writing, if it’s the acting, if it’s the directing, producing, whatever it is that you wan to do, just get started. To wait for the perfect conditions in order to work as an artist entails waiting a long time only because ‘the right time’ truly never exists. Whether factors outside of our control or internal ones that challenge our sense of self, there can always be something that convinces us to wait just a little longer. To be an artist means to make art, and so it is necessary to see ‘the right time’ as simply being the moment you choose to take action.”