Ever wonder why you are not getting promoted at work but someone who is half ass is? It could be because of racism and sexism but it also could be you do not know how to play the game and lack connections. How can you get connections? You need to get yourself a mentor in the organization. Why do you need a mentor? In one word, access. They have the access to networks and opportunities you don’t.
This post is for the ambitious and not faint of heart. Others may call this manipulation. I see it as another form of career planning. Some may not like what you are doing and call it ass kissing or “selling out.” Those people are jealous because you are doing is what they never had the guts to do. That is to take control of your career by getting a mentor within the executive ranks. What they think about you is none of your concern so ignore them because they are not signing your checks. Let’s get started.
If you are searching find a target job or organization. It really doesn’t matter what kind. All that matters are the expectations you have for yourself.
Investigate the organization or company you may join. What are they doing? Can the organization grow? Can you bring in people who are loyal to you? Can you move up in the organization? What are the demographics and culture of the organization? How will it benefit you? Can you fit in? Is it dysfunctional?
Get hired or involved. Make sure the job or position you take allows you to move up. What is the point of getting a mentor in an organization if you can’t use the lessons they teach you and their influence to get what you want.
After joining choose a mentor. Yes, you do the choosing. How you find a mentor? First assess yourself. Do you lack contacts, suck at public speaking or lack certain skills? Observe those within the organization and find someone who has the skills and networks you don’t. That means executives only because becoming an executive is your goal.
Before approaching a mentor, research your potential mentor. Most bios are on the businesses’ or organization’s website. Sometimes there are newspaper clippings around the office and on the public relations and marketing part of the website. You can always do a general search on the internet. If you want to ask around, tread lightly. You do not want others to become suspicious about what you are doing. The best people to speak to are the gatekeepers. The gatekeepers are the administrative folks like the receptionists, administrative assistants and secretaries. They know everything.
How can you get the potential mentor’s attention? Talk to them around the office or organization. Light chit-chat about sports and family always works. Stay away from the heavy stuff like politics and religion. The problem with politics and religion is that everyone always thinks they are right and the other side is wrong. Once they become familiar with, you ask them out to lunch on your dime. Don’t forget you learned about their favorite restaurant from their gatekeeper secretary. Flattery that is subtle always works. Tell them someone one told you that they were the best person to speak to about the organization. But guess what? At lunch you will NOT talk about the organization or company. You will ask your potential mentor nonthreatening questions about them. Take an interest in them. People like hearing themselves speak. They love it even more you listen so ask them about their philosophy when it comes to their career and their life. What keeps them motivated? How does someone like them balance work and home life? Who was their mentor? What advice would they give to their younger self? Focus on things that humanizes them. If they decline your invitation to lunch that is fine. When you see them gently work on them by engaging in light chit chat. Eventually they will. If you see they won’t budge find someone else who will.
After obtaining a mentor find out if the organization has any unresolved issues and solve them. If you cannot change policy or issues recommend a way or a person who can. Run it by your mentor. Make it seem like you were influenced by something they said or did and they will support it. If they ask you to make mild adjustments to your recommendations keep it so slight that only the mentor sees but tell your mentor their idea made it better. A new idea could be a new computer program, a way to cut costs without affecting the quality, etc.
At work or in the organization you must make yourself an irreplaceable valuable asset. Acquire skills that no one else has. It must be a mix of both hard and soft skills. If a job offers free training take it. After you acquired an intermediate level of skills ask if you can take advanced courses. Use those skills around the company or organization to make the lives of both management and staff easier. Since you are the only one with the skills everyone will be codependent on you.
Even outside of the office maintain your professionalism. If you go out to an engagement with your mentor or to an organization/company party limit yourself to one drink. Ask for a lot of ice so it seems you are drinking like everyone else. Remember, your superiors are the bosses and can drink without judgment. You can’t. Also keep in mind that since they are mentoring you your actions are a reflection of them. Stay in control and make them proud.
Once you have earned the trust of your mentor and organization use their position and contacts to gain power and move up. Drop suggestions about how you ready for new responsibilities. The mentor will grant them to you. After all, it is the mentor who has trained you.
When you achieve success always attribute it to your mentor. Even though you picked them it is best that they believed they picked you and they are one of the reasons why you succeeded. They feel invested in your career and to the outside world your loyalty to your mentor will be admired. People will want you by their side because your display of loyalty.
Next stop, the executive boardroom! I hope these suggestions will help you achieve the success you desire. Don’t forget to share this with your networks. Also share it with those who do not know how to play the corporate game. I am tired of seeing good people lose.
You are only limited by your own expectations. So think and be limitless.