Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moving On Up

Very recently, I received a calendar appointment from my boss for a sit down meeting. Before I could accept it several thoughts went through my mind: Have they noticed my excessive Internet use? Are they down-sizing and I'm being laid off? Did I totally screw up some big project and cost the company millions?? I nervously hit "Accept" and mentally prepared myself for the meeting, which would take place just after my normal lunch time (but of course I was too nervous to eat). When the clock neared the appointed time, I made my way to his office. When I entered, I noticed that he was smiling so I knew it couldn't be too bad. In fact, his smile relaxed me and the first thing I said jokingly was, "I'm scared." He laughed and offered me a seat. He started talking about changes in the company and opportunity and my performance in the time that I've been there. I was trying to listen to him and at the same time listen to the thoughts in my head: WHERE IS HE GOING WITH THIS?? Then he said it: "We would like to offer you a promotion." YES!!

Since receiving the promotion I started thinking about the people in the company who have been my biggest cheerleaders. I wanted to be sure to thank them. Then I started thinking about one in particular whom I've worked with a lot. I knew that she probably had a big voice in the room when my name was brought up for promotion. So I sent her a message telling her thank you for any kind words that she may have said on my behalf (and if she didn't to disregard that message). It then occurred to me that she's the one person within the company that I want to be like. So I let her know. I told her that I consider her my mentor within the company and that there is a lot that I can learn from her (I have two mentors outside of the company as well). She was extremely honored and said that I made her day.

Why did I pick her as my mentor, you ask? Good question. Well, the very first time I met her I actually wasn't too sure about how we would get along. You see, she's a "take charge, I'm running things, and if you aren't on the same page as me, we're going to have problems" kind of Working Girl. At least that was my first impression of her. Now, looking back, I think she gave off that vibe because she was new to the company and wanted to make an impression on people. After a while, I realized that she actually isn't hard to work with at all and that's she's pretty easy going and willing to work with people. But the main thing I saw in her was how quickly she seemed to be climbing the corporate ladder. I want that to be me.

Since I told her she is my mentor, I've noticed that things have changed between us and that we are on the path to developing a great working relationship. She now takes me aside and shows me things that other colleagues haven't shown me. She wants to teach me everything she can, and believe me, I'm willing to learn. I want to move up the corporate ladder right behind her and I truly believe that she will do what she can to take me with her as she continues to move up within the company.

This article summarizes a study that found that mentoring for women does not seem to be effective. I think that having a mentor within the company can be a bit tricky, particularly if you work closely together. I don't want to get too comfortable with her and let some of my professionalism go out the window, but I do want to get to know her better. My fear would be disappointing my mentor, but one of my greatest hopes is that we can develop a friendship in addition to our working relationship (because she seems like a pretty cool Working Girl).

Working Girls, do you have a mentor within your company? Is your mentor a male or female? Is your mentor proactive in mentoring you? Are you proactive in staying connected to your mentor? Any tips to help me make the most of my new mentor/mentee relationship?


Angeline said...

Congratulations! How exciting!

I think it's great that you noticed and recognized your advocates. I'm lucky to have a boss (and another director that shares my boss's office) that fought for me to get my promotion (took a loooong time). Now that my boss is getting ready for maternity leave, I've got some big shoes to fill in the interim, but I've been sure to ask her advice before she leaves and remind everyone that I learned everything I know from her (don't want her to feel like she's replaceable while she's gone, since she isn't). While we don't have a formal mentorship, it has definitely felt like that type of relationship. I don't know how that compares to men's working relationships, but I definitely like the mentorship!

Kris said...

Congrats on your promotions and I'm glad you have found your mentor. Such a hard thing to find, or you find it only once in your early career! :o(

Heather said...

Congratulations!! I wish we had a mentor program. I believe we used to have it (before I started) and they realized people were taking this new found knowledge and moving onto bigger and better things at other companies. I think right now is a great time for companies to have mentor programs. They wont cost the company and with these newer working generations coming in, it would be nice to see them on a good path.

Kelsey said...

I definitely have a mentor/role-model at my work. She helped me get hired in the first place! She has this way of getting things done, but she's also really humble.

Lawyer Working Girl said...

Thanks for the congrats!! Since we don't have a formal mentor program, I just took it upon myself to appoint one for me.

One thing that I have heard from women before is that they sometimes find that other women within the company don't want to help or see them as their direct competition. Luckily, I haven't seen that within our company. All of the women seem to get along well and are helpful to each other.

Heather Pranitis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Pranitis said...

Congrats! Cheers to you and your new adventure - the "climb" up the corporate ladder. First, I think it is great that you have a mentor and second, that your mentor (now aware) has taken it up a notch. It will be a definite benefit to you (as an individual and personal growth) and your career. Very exciting.

tee said...

First of all, congratulations on your promotion!

When I first started my career in real estate I had a mentor and I hated. But after working with other people I realized I actually hated her, my mentor. We had completely different work ethics and we just didn't "vibe". A mentor is completely different than a boss; I find you're going to have to like someone first to be able to look up to them.

Lawyer Working Girl said...

Thanks again for the congrats! More posts to come on the change in position.

Thinking back to mentor programs that I had to partipate in I realized that mandatory, randomly selected mentors just don't work. I've never had one whom I could relate to and we never did any sort of mentor/mentee activities. I totally think a mentor should be someone whom you naturally gravitate towards and who is receptive to being your mentor. I totally agree that you need to like and be able to relate to each other for the relationship to be successful.