How Supervisors Can Enhance the Mentoring Experience
For many, the role of the supervisor and your relationship with them can be both multifaceted and at times complicated. Oftentimes, we perceive our direct supervisor as that one person who can make or break our career. But often overlooked is the way in which they can have a very positive role in our career growth and progression.
In the course of a formal mentoring program, the supervisor can prove to be one of our most valuable assets. They are the ones who can observe first hand the milestones that we have met as well as the pitfalls that may be coming our way. Our relationship with the supervisor should be more of a collaborative effort during a mentoring program. By merely including them in the process, we not only answer any questions that they may have about the program and our role in it, but we also benefit from their wisdom of experience.
The following are a few tips to enhance your mentoring experience:
¨ Include the supervisor in the design of mentoring plans. When the supervisor becomes part of this process, they not only add to the brainstorming, but can also be a great resource of career enhancing opportunities. What better way to enhance your career than to ask your supervisor if you can have a prominent role in the next team project.
¨ Ask for advice. We all could benefit from a second opinion at times and who better to see the overall picture than the next in command. Not only can they steer us in the right direction, but they can also offer additional background information that may not have been previously available to us.
¨ Connect to a new network. By simply accompanying the supervisor to their next staff meeting or professional association get-together, we have instantly expanded our professional network. Not only can we observe what other members of the association are doing in their fields, but we are also afforded the prospect of exploring new opportunities for development.
¨ Solicit constructive feedback. As difficult as it can be to ask for constructive feedback, when graciously received, it can have a profound effect on how we do business and more importantly- how we interact with others. It is often the perception of others (especially those ranked above us) that makes or breaks a promotion opportunity. When we objectively make those "corrections” recommended, we can almost immediately see the very real effect it can have on our everyday dealings and future successes.
Lastly, the inclusion of the supervisor in the mentoring program should be at minimum, a professional courtesy. If we expand our perceptions, we can undoubtedly expand our horizons.
ASK A MENTOR
It is important to keep in mind that your mentor is most likely a supervisor and has had a number of their own supervisors throughout the years. The next time you meet with your mentoring partner, ask them to share their experiences with their current and former supervisors and how they interacted and benefited from advice and candid feedback. The following are a few sample questions:
- Over the years, who has been your most memorable supervisor and why?
- How were they able to help you professionally?
- Are they still mentoring you?
- Have you ever reached out to a supervisor and asked them to help you plan your career path?
- What were some of their ideas?
- Have you ever solicited feedback from a supervisor?
- What was their advice?
- Did that advice surprise you?
- As a supervisor, what are strong indicators of success?
- What are the most important skills to have for career progression?
- Why are these skills so important?