Mentorship: It Takes TWO to be Successful, Part 1: Begin with the End in Mind!
Kathy Kinton Williams motivated and inspired a large gathering of attendees at the ICCS Women in Cytometry Reception in Atlanta. Her talk electrified both men and women, clinicians and technologists, experts and novice cytometrists. We are excited that Kathy agreed to write a three-part series based on her talk for the newsletter.
Kathy is an accomplished leader in the brewing industry. She dedicated 32 years of her career to Miller/Miller Coors, during which time she served in many impressive leadership roles, including becoming the first female President of the Master Brewers Association of American. Kathy shares with us many of the lessons she has learned from her experiences with mentoring relationships and how to get the most out of them.
International Women in Cytometry Committee
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Mentorship is recognized as a valuable resource for career growth, but how can it be efficiently maximized for both the Mentor and Mentee? This is the first of three articles with recommendations for successful mentoring relationships gained from my personal career and observations.
When Considering A Mentoring Relationship, "Begin with the End in Mind!"
What Does a Successful Mentoring Relationship Look Like?
What Can You Do If NOT in a Mentoring Relationship at this time?
When Considering Mentoring Relationships, "Begin with the End in Mind!"
Habit number two from Steven Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is still true today as we visualize successful mentorship relationships and determine steps to achieve them. Here are four initial points for a potential mentee to consider as part of this process.
First step for a mentee is to define the areas where you would like to have mentor guidance. For example:
Personal/professional development, or soft skills, such as leadership, visibility, career advancement, or
Technical skills, such as protocols, procedures, validation, or assay design and optimization.
Different mentors may be needed for you to achieve your goals. For the purpose of these articles, we'll focus on formal mentoring relationships for personal and professional development.
Second, visualize "What Does Good Look Like?"
All of us have seen others who have achieved success, leadership, respect, confidence, and we think, "I want to be just like that person!" Remember at one time, they were also new in their career. What can you do?
Observe successful people and document what habits and behaviors make them successful. Take each successful attribute and consider it a benchmark for your success.
Honestly evaluate your own behavior against their benchmark, then strive to move closer to that benchmark. Set specific actions and timelines. Periodically review progress to determine whether or not you are moving closer toward your goal.
Conversely, if you observe negative behaviors in someone, honestly evaluate if that is also a potential negative in your performance, then also work to change that behavior.
Third, recognize that most of us have our own stereotypes, perceptions, and implicit biases that may hinder our success. Unaddressed, these can lead to prejudice and discrimination unconsciously in your understanding, thoughts, actions, and decisions. Some of these we recognize, and some, we may not. Mentoring relationships in today's world are often with individuals that are NOT just like you. What can you do?
Research stereotypes, implicit biases, prejudices, and their link to diversity issues in the workplace. Bookstores and the Internet have multiple informational resources, as well as testing opportunities. Not only do you live and work in a diverse world, you may also be diverse to others in their world. Understanding, embracing, and celebrating diversity is critical for your career success in today's world.
2. Seek ways to increase communication with individuals NOT like you. Think of a VENN Diagram with two circles, one for you and your world experiences, and one for the other person and his/her world experiences. Work to create an intersection between the two circles where communication begins between the two of you.
Fourth, realize that your personal professional performance and image TODAY affects your opportunities TOMORROW! You and your performance are being observed daily, and what you DO speaks louder than what you SAY. Maximize the opportunities you have right now in your current situation to gain valuable networking, leadership, team, and visibility experiences. When you do, unexpected opportunities may come in your direction. Your PAST PERFORMANCE is indicative of your FUTURE PERFORMANCE. Where do you begin?
Step out of your comfort zone; break your personal paradigm. Volunteer for challenging work assignments, increased leadership, professional experiences such as task teams or work groups.d.
Be authentic and dependable. Ensure your word is true and you meet your commitments.
Be a problem-solver. When you identify and communicate a problem to your manager or work group, also bring a solution.
Prepare your mind, increase your confidence, strengthen your resume. Look at the job descriptions for jobs you aspire to have in the future. Identify the key requirements for each position and identify opportunities in your situation to gain experience in these areas. Your goal would be to populate a spreadsheet of examples for each of the key job requirements. Then, when you are asked in an interview to provide a situation/task, specific action, and result demonstrating a critical performance area, you will be able to quickly and confidently respond.
Mentees, please remember that a mentor is not your parent or therapist, not able to solve your problems, provide a protocol, standard method, or procedure for guaranteed success, nor promise a promotion. YOU OWN the majority of a Mentorship process, so start early and prepare for greater success.