In a recent survey conducted by Robert Walters on the benefits of having a mentor, it emerged that 32% of support staff do not think they would benefit from taking part in a formal mentoring programme and a further 76% have never been part of a mentoring programme. They are high statistics but not surprising. In my experience, a lot of PAs and EAs fall into the job and do not necessarily see it as a career or a profession that needs to be developed and unfortunately neither do their managers. Another telling statistic in the survey revealed that 55% of secretarial and support staff leave their job because of a lack of career progression. I can’t help thinking if support staff were involved in a mentoring scheme they wouldn’t necessarily leave because of a lack of career progression.
In my last role, I had a mentor at work who helped me enormously. She was a brilliant communicator, knowledgeable about the business and she had worked with my manager for a number of years at a few different organisations. We would meet for an hour each week, usually outside of the office, to discuss a number of topics including my workload, how I planned to complete my task list, what I could do differently, best practice tips and what was happening in the business.
I would highly recommend having a mentor at work and although you might not have thought about it before the benefits can be considerable, here are a few that I encountered:
- I was learning from someone more experienced than me
- I got an insider’s view on how to successfully get things done, especially as she had prior knowledge on how to best work with my manager
- I gained a fresh perspective on my work frustrations and how to effectively deal with other members of staff
- I received great advice on my career and the right choices to make in my job
- I had someone in my office who was senior to me but was my ally and supported me through some rough patches
- My mentor helped me increase my networking opportunities by inviting me to various functions and events
- I worked better and more efficiently with a clearer idea of how to increase my productivity
As PAs / EAs It can be so easy to get left behind in our careers, particularly as we are not the focus of the business and our managers have other senior members of staff to deal with. However, rather than leaving because we don’t feel there is anything more we can do in the role or we are not progressing, it is worth trying to speak to a mentor and getting some sound advice on what to do to improve our current job. I did and it really helped.
Once you have selected a potential mentor, ask them straight away – trust me they will be flattered! Finally here are a few personality traits to look out for in a good mentor,
- A good knowledge of the business
- Positive and enthusiastic about your role and the type of work you do
- Decisive and focused on achieving goals
- Successful but have also learnt from their mistakes
Are you a new Assistant?
Our eBook, ‘Starting out as a New Assistant‘, is designed to help you navigate the first few months of your new role. Here you will find everything you need for the initial first meeting with your Executive. You will also find articles on how to navigate the tricky world of working with the Executive Team, building rapport with your new Executive and advice on how you can work effectively with a boss who has never had an Assistant before.