Having just launched my book, I’ve been thinking about the people who helped me get to this point. I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, and I truly believe that mentoring and being mentored is a key part of a successful career. However, so many of us, particularly women in construction, don’t know how to go about getting a mentor or what they really want from them.
After doing a presentation at a recent Professional Women in Construction (PWC) member night, a young construction manager approached me. “I like the mentorship aspect, but I need coaching on how to ask for a raise and how to approach my boss about money.” Here’s what I advised.
Set Your Intention
I suggested that she first plant the seed, letting her boss know that she wanted to discuss her salary at her next review. But when I dug a little deeper, it became obvious to me that she was still unclear about what she wanted from her boss, and what she wanted to gain from her mentoring relationship.
I call it a relationship because mentoring is a two-way street. You can’t expect much from the senior leadership when you haven’t put the time in yourself to decide what you need. You have to look in the mirror first and find your intention. Discovering and setting your intention for how you want your mentorship to develop and unfold is how you will make the most of your relationship. In fact, this is a good rule for most things in life, even construction projects.
Find Someone You Admire
Once you have decided what you want to achieve – and it may not always be about money – the next step is to find someone who can teach you. Maybe you need coaching on how to manage people or difficult situations, how to make better career decisions, how to negotiate, or how to create a meaningful connection with the people or department where you work. Try watching your leaders and co-workers, and when they handle a situation in a way you admire, they may be able to help you learn to do the same.
Think Outside of the Box
Often, we think that our careers would be better if we earned more money or got a promotion. But there is more to your work life than money and responsibility. Learning how to deal with other aspects like those I mention above can enrich your work life as much as a raise can, if not more. There’s a quote I love that says, “Happiness in life is based on the quality of your thoughts.” Focusing on the negatives of your role and what you aren’t getting can often overshadow the positives and leads to an unhealthy and unhappy place.
Put It into Practice
So, the next time you are looking for your mentor, try putting some of this advice into action. You’ll be surprised at how much more you will gain from the relationship – both professionally and personally – especially if you take the time to set your intention. You can read more about the power of setting the intention for a healthcare project in my newly released book, Health Well Done: A Patient-Centered Management Approach to Building Healthcare Environments.