A mentor can make a big difference in your career. You want to find a person who is genuinely concerned about helping you succeed. Surprisingly, there are many people who wish you well, and can help you learn the ropes within your organization.
A mentor doesn’t do the work for you. Instead, they provide guidance, and ask you to consider different ideas or angles that you might have missed. It’s important to find someone who has extensive experience in decision-making, especially related to your organization and industry.
There are times, however, when a mentor is causing you headaches instead of providing assistance. In some cases, the mentor turns on you and is more interested in seeing you fail. You must quickly identify this issue and resolve it.
Here are three signs you should buck your mentor:
#1: You can’t reach your mentor.
A mentor should have an interest in helping you. To do this, he must be available. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he will be at your beck and call, but the mentor should return an email or telephone call within a reasonable time.
If your mentor goes several weeks without getting back with you, it’s time for you to move on and find someone else to serve in his role. Of course, you must understand that highly competent people are busy, and they might forget to get back to you. If appropriate, you can send a reminder, or stop by his desk if they work in the same organization.
#2: The guidance is flat wrong.
I once had an issue with the work requirements assigned by my manager. She was busy, and many times just kept adding to my workload. I did the best I could, but it was tough to keep the pace. I asked a veteran employee for guidance, and he told me the following: “Look… the work is not going to stop. She is basically using you to do her work. If I were you, I would quit! It’s time to get out of here! That’s what I would do if I were you.”
This feedback from this so-called mentor lacked substance. The option of quitting my job has far more implications than dealing with the problem. He was the type of mentor who liked to cause problems for senior management, and felt that asking people to quit would stir the pot even more. In essence, he wanted to prove his point by having others take the fall.
#3: The mentor is envious.
A mentor should help you succeed. This person should be enthusiastic when you are doing well. However, there are many cases in which the mentor becomes envious, and is upset about your progress.
You should also do your part to prevent this envy. Make sure that you give credit to your mentor. Let her know that a big part of your success stems from her guidance. You can take the person out to lunch, or mention them when giving your promotion speech. In other words, remember those who helped you excel.
Your success will improve to the level that you have mentors helping you along the way. It’s nearly impossible for you to do all the work on your own. Put aside your pride, and seek professional individuals who are enthusiastic about your career growth. If you discover that your mentor is sabotaging your success, it’s your job to cut-off ties and begin the selection process anew.