Yes – You Need a Mentor

Mentoring. We all know we need it, but don’t always make the time for it in our increasingly busy schedules. But mentoring isn’t a luxury that should be reserved for our spare time, it’s a necessary investment that deserves to be prioritized if you want to grow as a professional – and help others do the same. Today we’ll be talking with Kim Robertson, CPSM, Senior Marketing Manager at MKK Consulting Engineers, about the value of mentoring, and being mentored, at every stage of your career.

Mentors are incredible people who care and want to help you. You just have to reach out and ask.

CQ: A recent article titled “Want to Keep Your Millennials – Mentor Them” from the Huffington Post states, “The business case for mentoring is so strong that in a Wharton study, people who mentor got promoted 6x more than people who didn’t and mentees were promoted 5x more.” Why do you think there is a such a strong correlation between mentoring and promotions?

KR: I believe that if you are putting yourself out there and teaching other people how to be better at their jobs, you’re also making yourself better. There’s a correlation between mentoring and promotions because in the process of being a mentor, you are participating in professional development, you are becoming vulnerable, and learning to be more self aware. Companies really value people who are willing to share their knowledge, so when they see someone who’s bringing up the next generation, they want to keep that person in their company. They want to promote them. There’s no longer the stigma of trying to hold the next guy down. Now it’s about pulling up the next generation and helping them succeed so that we can get better ourselves.

CQ: When did you start serving as a mentor?

KR: I started becoming a mentor quite a few years ago. As a graphic designer, I believe that I have a lot to give. From my first experience as a mentee, I learned that I had a lot to teach other people even though I was fairly young in the industry. I had a unique knowledge base and so I started being an asset for others to call on for graphic design questions. That was more informal mentoring.

But formally, I became a mentor about three years ago when I joined my current firm. In the interview, they specifically asked me how I felt about being a mentor to the current marketing coordinator. And I was like, YES, I finally get to teach people all the things that others have taught me. It was my way to pay it forward and it has been such a rewarding experience.

CQ: Which of the different types of mentor relationship structures – formal or informal – has worked best for you? What are the pros and cons of the different approaches?

KR: I think every relationship should have some boundaries and guidelines set up when you go in to it. You should have goals set up, and have an idea of how often you’re going to meet to check in on those goals. I think having a more formalized relationship works the best. You don’t have to sit down and fill out paperwork, but you should at least have an idea of what the mentee wants to learn and how the mentor can help. However, you should also understand that these relationship are very organic and they are going to change over time. So while a mentee might go into the relationship wanting to know one thing, it may turn into something completely different as you explore that topic. You have to allow for that flexibility and fluidity in order to continue getting value out of the relationship.

CQ: How do you follow up with your mentees to ensure that they’re getting what they need out of the relationship?

KR: It’s really easy to follow up with my mentees because they work in my department with me, but it’s really informal. Sometimes I just take them to lunch to check in on how they’re doing with their goals and if I’ve been able to create opportunities for them. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that honesty is the best policy. As a mentor, you need to be able to be honest with your mentee because that open and honest conversation is the best medicine for them. They may not want to hear it at the time, but they entered into this relationship wanting your honest feedback, and you have to be able to give it to them. Sometimes it can put a strain on the relationship when you’ve said something they didn’t WANT to hear, but NEEDED to hear. If you follow up with them and share the reasoning why, and remind them that it is rooted in helping them grow, they’re going to understand.

CQ: Where is the value behind having multiple mentors?

KR: I currently have two different people in my company that mentor me for different reasons. First, my current supervisor who has been with the company for 20 years and knows the ins and outs of our company. But I also have someone outside my department, a female executive who I basically want to be when I grow up. They both advocate for me in different ways and are teaching me two completely different things to be better as a whole person. They are making me a better manager, a better leader, a better marketer. All in all, I’m a better person because I have two people looking out for my best interests in this company.

CQ: How do you approach finding a mentor outside your company?

KR: I think SMPS is a great place to start because you’re going to find people with commonalities. Not every chapter has a formal program, but everyone in the room at SMPS can teach you something. And I mean EVERYONE – from people who have been there for one year to people who have been there for thirty.

You can also look outside the industry completely and stretch yourself. Depending on what your goals are, you might look into other associations, women’s associations, chambers or community groups, non-profits, or your alma mater. Even your family members can mentor you. My dad was probably my very first unofficial mentor and I constantly seek out his advice and guidance still to this day. There are so many people out there who care about your success – you just have to look.

CQ: What would you say to someone who said they didn’t have the time or need for a mentor right now?

Everyone wants to progress their career in some way, and having a mentor is the way to fast track that progress. Mentors can see things about you that you can’t see. They can tell it like it is. They can give you the best advice if you are willing to listen. They can fast track your career and advocate for you when you can’t be your own voice. Mentors are incredible people who care and want to help you. You just have to reach out and ask. That’s all you have to do. And it won’t be long before you see your career skyrocket.


Want to hear more from Kim? Listen to the full podcast to learn more about Kim’s first experience as a mentee and her take on who should be driving the mentoring relationship.

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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About KIm

Kim Robertson CPSM

Kim Robertson, CPSM found her way into the A/E/C world through a newspaper classified ad starting as a Marketing Assistant in San Antonio 10 years’ ago, and now serves as the Senior Marketing Manager for MKK Consulting Engineers, in Denver.  A self-proclaimed “Jane of All Trades,” Kim enjoys immersing herself in all things marketing:  client relations, planning and strategy, promotions, proposals, and organizational management.  Kim is the current Immediate Past President of SMPS Colorado, a Certified Professional Services Marketer, and a 2015 graduate of SMPS University.  She uses this knowledge for good as she helps others grow and develop their love for the industry.

Have questions or want to chat more with Kim? Post your comments below or connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Double Dip with Kim

Join us Thursday on the podcast when we’re back with Kim to learn more about her career, the lessons she’s learned along the way, and what inspired her to start 1200 Miles Away – her highly successful lifestyle blog about marriage, military life, parenting a tween, and everything else life might throw at her.

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.


Next week, we’ll welcome Mindy Hinsley, CPSM, President of Hinsley Collective LLC, to share her secrets for keeping your strategic plan alive.