Mentors are the guides you choose

Mentors are the guides you choose

Sometimes your boss might be your best mentor, but sometimes: they aren't. Within CIM membership, we offer a mentoring programme to help marketers take that next step in their career path with a guide that’s right for them.

It’s fair to say not all bosses are meant to be mentors.                 

In undertaking the role of someone’s boss there can be the expectation that they become a mentor to the people they manage. Though there's no guarantee that the guidance they offer is the guidance you need.

What makes a mentor

Mentors can be adopted in all areas of your life: from your studies, your social life or career. Though these things do tend to bleed into each other, a CIM mentor is well placed to nurture your career in different ways. A boss is someone who delegates your workload and can give you instructions on the task at hand. A mentor will not only share knowledge of a subject, but also offer their experience in the matter. So a boss, in the right circumstances, can be a mentor.

But what really makes a mentor stand out from a boss is that they will offer advice and perhaps act as counsel for an individual. A one-on-one relationship where you can be honest without fear of reprisal.

Image: Mind map Centre: "Mentoring" Words around it: Training, Coaching, Direction, Goal, Support, Advice and Guidance

Why your boss isn’t always your best mentor

There are different types of management in work. These different styles are pivotal to the successful growth and learning of an employee. The best management style will lead to a happier employee, yielding results which are more effective and mean more to the project. That’s because the work matters to them personally.

You might have experienced first-hand or by proxy, bosses with a hands-off, laissez-faire approach. Or bosses who don’t allow employees to share their perspectives and ideas, instead opting for ‘shape up or ship out’. This can lead to feelings of being a square peg in a round hole – and you’ll never magically become a round peg.

When working in a very small team for example, perhaps just a manager and the person they are line managing, any small tensions can easily become bigger. In this close working arrangement, it can be easy to see when your boss has a lot on their plate, leaving you feeling like you can’t go to them for help and guidance. If they’re struggling to manage themselves, by taking on a mentor you take your management into your own hands.

On the other end of the scale, in large teams there are managers who are unable to be there for you. They are seemingly distant due to such a large workforce, and having any one-on-one time is a rarity. Upon eventually pinning them down for a catch up, they respond to your queries and issues with a smile and an agreeable attitude. So much so you go away feeling relieved, comforted: things are fine and under control.

Except they might not be. You haven’t been listened to but rather placated, and you find this out when they can’t or don’t follow up on what they have said previously. It goes from heart-warming to heart-breaking, and your career isn’t improved.

A mentor will encourage you to ask questions, they might see this as a strength. You’ve listened, taken in the information and you’ve got questions to help understand the task better or something has piqued your interest. Certain bosses may not appreciate being asked questions and see asking for help and guidance as a lack of effort or initiative. A lot of it comes down to different personality types.

From course to career to member to mentor

To open a career pathway some people will go and study a CIM course. Many will be referred to a course via their work and be sponsored. However, there are those who will choose to study of their own accord to gain insight into the marketing industry.

For more information on self-funding a CIM course, check out our own Laura Scott’s self-funded journey.

They may not have had bosses or colleagues in the right industry, or they might not have been encouraged in general to follow this or that career path. These students have had to trust their own guiding force within. But perhaps with the guidance of someone who can nurture them to grow this passion they could break through internal walls they never thought they could.

There are some bosses who are also great guides, these bosses are a precious gem to the workplace. But you might find that reaching out of your company and extending that arm towards the CIM for our member and mentoring scheme, you’ll find the support you’ve been looking for.

Whether you are at the start of your marketing career or more advanced, being a mentee can expand your mindset as well as your skillset. Alternatively, we’re always on the lookout for mentors too, willing to coach and inspire developing marketers. Find out how you can boost your career with our recent webinar.


Andrea Lewis Marketing co-ordinator CIM
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