“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell
Tamra asks: When I asked my direct reports for feedback on my own performance recently, I was surprised by the answer one of them gave. He said he’d love more mentoring to help him get to the next level in his career. I feel like I always take time to check in about how my staff can improve. We have frequent one-on-ones, and I’m told I’m very approachable. How can I become a better mentor? What am I missing when it comes to mentoring them to the next level?
Joel answers: Mentoring has many dimensions, so it’s really not surprising that you’re excelling in some key ways but have room to improve in others.
Here’s what it sounds like the core issue is: It’s time to take the mystery out of the promotion process. Your people are getting a lot of support from you in their growth, but they need to know how to channel that growth into new opportunities. To become a better mentor, focus on how to provide that guidance.
Have you ever had a job in which you had no real idea of what it would take to get to the next level? If you’re now a boss, some of your people may be feeling the exact same way. Now that the tables have turned, it’s time to give them the clarity about the career advancement process that you always wanted from your own boss.
Here are three steps you can take to promote your star performers:
- Tell your employees exactly what you plan to do in order to help them get promoted.
- Give them action steps, and follow up on their progress in weekly or biweekly check-ins.
- Get proactive about promoting your people to your peers and those above you in the organization.
- Know your messaging strategy around the promotion of your employees.
To proactively share positive messages about your employees, clarify your messaging strategy. What three key traits do you want them to associate with the employee you’re promoting? Ask for her input on this, helping her to create a clear brand for herself. Consider the areas in which that person excels, as well as her goals. Consistent messaging about that employee’s brand will help her develop a strong reputation for those qualities.
- Share impactful stories showing the value of that employee to the company.
Think of examples of situations in which that individual has demonstrated those key qualities. Think of your favorite stories of how she saved the day or made your own life easier. Being able to tell a vivid story when you introduce her to a higher-level leader will make the intro far more memorable than “This is Jane from accounting. She does great work.” Jot down a list of favorite stories that put a spotlight on each employee’s best qualities, and keep it in the employee’s file for quick reference. If you’re sitting around the board room discussing that person’s qualifications, you’ll be prepared to eloquently explain why she’s the best candidate for promotion.
- Set work performance goals with your employee.
Make sure you prioritized setting work performance goals with your employees. Now, raise awareness about what your people have accomplished. Send out a monthly update to other leaders on what your team has achieved, describing what star performers have done to reach their goals. If they’ve taken important steps toward self-improvement, mention that too!
- Introduce your employee to the key stakeholders.
In regard to their own action steps, networking is a major priority. Come up with a list of key players across the organization for your employee to develop a rapport with. Give tips on how to approach them and where.
- Give them detailed action steps to help improve their reputation.
Give them homework, too, like creating a compelling elevator speech about their accomplishments. Have them rehearse it with you. Encourage them to take steps to promote their personal brand. Ask them to send you a succinct and persuasive list of major accomplishments they’ve achieved over the past year. Give them tips on how to take credit for their work, too, so it never goes unseen.
- Find additional mentors to help them get to where they want to go.
Employees may also need additional mentors to get to where they want to go. Connect them with mentors who can give them more guidance on their chosen path.
Even if you’re already doing some of these things, your people need to know it. When they know the specific steps you’re taking to promote them to other leaders, they’ll feel you’re part of a team that’s committed to their growth. As you learn how to be a better mentor, you’ll become a stronger leader who will motivate your people to go the extra mile to promote themselves, too.
Joel is an expert in helping bosses become better leaders who provide quality mentoring for their people. Contact him today to improve both relationships and results.