Monday, May 11, 2015

This Advice Can Help You In Advancing In Your Career

If you think that having a mentor is enough for advancing in your career, you may be terribly wrong. It is true that having a mentor is a wonderful thing because he or she may help you gain some of the critical skills that are required for your job. Your mentor may also help you navigate the challenges you may face at your workplace. You can use your mentor also as a sounding board when you are staring at a crossroad-like situation in the career you have chosen. But in the present-day environment when a highly competitive climate is prevailing in every field, you can not climb your career ladder without the help of a sponsor.

Jenna Goudreau who has authored an article entitled “Why You Need a Sponsor—Not a Mentor—to Fast-Track Your Career,” says that recent studies categorically establish that sponsorship, and not mentorship, can trigger power transfers in a workplace. Even many other management experts admit that sponsors can wield their internal social and political power as well as capital in helping their candidates move their career forward. This means they will be willing to argue the cases of their favorite candidates with the top management, of course, in camera. In other words, sponsors are spokespersons who can influence the top management by putting forth arguments in favor of your capabilities. The main difference between mentors and sponsors is that mentors will talk with the candidates but sponsors will talk about their candidates. Mentors give perspectives but sponsors provide their candidates with opportunities.

Another explanation can be mentors may help you in your efforts to “skill up” while sponsors will hep you in your upward movement in your career ladder. If you acquire the support of a good sponsor, you can rest assured that you are protected by a safety net so you can take risks confidently. You can demand for a stretch in your assignment and you can even ask for a promotion. Your sponsor will act as what experts call as "the protective bubble" and will shield you from drastic organizational changes such as layoffs, reorganizations, etc. On the positive side, when high-level talent and development discussions take place in camera, they will not forget to talk about you. Conversely, if you are moving up in your career ladder faster than others, you can assume that a sponsor has pulled strings for you.

How to choose a sponsor?

This is a wrong question because you never have an option to choose your sponsor. The fact is that it is a sponsor who chooses you. But if you possess certain behaviors, you will certainly attract the attention of even high-level sponsors. The good news is that you can tilt the scales in your favor and increase the chances of such high-level sponsors advocating for you by acquiring these behaviors.

1. Performance

No other behavior can attract a sponsor better than a great performance. Sponsors may hate to advocate the cases of incompetent people. Therefore, you must make all possible efforts to enhance your performance levels. For example, if you perform beyond the role that has been assigned to you, you are more likely to attract the attention of a high-level sponsor.

2. Get to know who high-level sponsors are

Identifying such sponsors may be a tricky task. But you can easily find the talent scouts or talent developers in your company. Do a little more research about them so you can identify a high level sponsor. Leaders or managers in the top hierarchy of your company who do not hesitate to praise their subordinates publicly and to back them even when contentious issues crop up can be good sponsors. Likewise, high-level sponsors are those who never hesitate to offer huge and challenging assignments to subordinates who are enthusiastic, who are upcoming but who are yet to prove themselves.

3. Be ready to grab Exposure Opportunities

A sponsor may hesitate to advocate your case if he or she does not have the opportunity to know your competence or the quality of your skills. So, when a project that gives an opportunity to work under such a sponsor comes up, you must not hesitate to grab it. In fact, you must be proactive and find such a project. You can even join a task force or a committee that is specially formed by such a sponsor so he or she can directly see your enthusiasm, your activities and the quality of your competence.

4. Your values must be 'visible'

Your achievements and your values must be visible to everyone and more particularly, to such high-level sponsors of your company. Never think that your values, skills or competence should be kept a secret. When you get a chance to meet potential sponsors either in the elevator or in the office canteen, you must not hesitate to share a sound-bite that describes your accomplishments.

5. Have Clearly Defined Career Goals

Unless you have clearly defined career goals, your sponsor may not know the right opportunities that match with them. After all, you can not expect your sponsor to know them when you yourself do not know what you want to achieve.

6. Sharing Your Career Goals With Potential Sponsors Is Not A Mistake

You must share your career goals with your mentor, the managers of the company and more importantly, potential sponsors so they will remember them at the right moments. In short, sharing your career goals will always keep you ‘sponsor-ready.’

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