I’m young and I need more mentoring than my boss wants to provide. What should I do?

globe and mailANDREA YU

Nine to Five


I work in communications and have come to realize that my boss is a macromanager. She provides very little direction on most tasks and often isn’t available when a project is under way. That said, we have a good working relationship. We meet every two weeks and she seems pleased with my performance. While having a hands-off boss may be ideal for some people, I’m quite young, just starting my career and am looking for guidance and some mentoring. My boss is reaching retirement age and I get the impression that her style of management won’t be changing at this point. Should I just accept this dynamic between us and seek out other opportunities? Or is it worth addressing with her?

Colleen Clarke, career specialist, Toronto: It is impressive to know you have a healthy working relationship with your boss. Have you asked her for a more hands-on approach to working with you, being specific about what you mean by hands-on? Often employees prefer to be left to their own devices. Good on you for recognizing that more guidance is important to you now, and for taking the initiative to speak up. Having a mentor is a mature and professional way to move upward and onward in your career. Mentoring is the oldest form of learning.

Close-to-retiring managers often love mentoring over managing, so asking your boss to mentor you might just be her bailiwick. Do some reading on the expectations of mentees and mentors. Prepare a list of areas/skills your projects cover and examples of where her expertise would be beneficial to you. Ask open-ended questions. Also, be prepared to list your strengths and accomplishments. Maybe you are an apt learner, a strong editor or an accomplished speechwriter. Tell her your goals and aspirations and what challenges and motivates you.

Outline what you need and when her mentoring would be most effective. Be prepared to listen. Be receptive to trying new things, learning new skills, to stretch and grow. Be respectful of her time and her priorities. Show you are serious by setting goals, by being receptive to feedback and by remaining open to be challenged. Keep communication open and be on time for meetings.

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