APU Careers Careers & Learning Original

Mentoring May Be Key to Making Remote Work Better for You

By Dr. Kandis Y. Wyatt, PMP
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics

Throughout 2020 and 2021, we’ve seen a shift in many jobs from in-person work to remote work. Statistics are showing a dramatic decrease in the desire of American workers to obtain low-wage jobs that can’t be done remotely.

Remote Work’s Popularity Is Continuing

Remote work has become popular among workers for a variety of reasons. It promotes greater health since it reduces the possibility of employees contracting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

Also, remote workers have reported greater job satisfaction and higher productivity working from home, which contributes to their feeling of work-life balance and mental health. For many workers, workplace drama, lengthy commutes and unnecessary activities have been reduced with remote work.

Remote work has benefits for companies as well. Companies can widen their pool of applicants if employees can work remotely. Likewise, companies can eliminate in-person office operations, which saves them money on rent, utilities and parking.

Job openings are prevalent in several industries such as childcare, restaurants, and hotels, mainly because people are not seeking in-person jobs. Likewise, technical positions that permit remote work are among the fastest-growing job sectors.

However, making the shift from in-person to remote work is easier said than done. Hard work and desire are not the only ingredients to a fruitful career.

Career Success Depends Upon Performance, Image and Exposure, According to One Business Author

According to business author Harvey J. Coleman, how well you do your job has very little to do with your overall career success. Coleman states that career success is a mix of three components: performance, image and exposure (PIE). This PIE concept is eye-opening for many job seekers because it highlights that exposure – how you market yourself and network with others – is more important than image and more important than performance.

Coleman’s research highlights that with the PIE concept, performance is 10%, image is 30% and exposure is 60%. As a result, many workers may not experience “success” as they seek to climb the corporate ladder.

For many employees, a “corporate ladder” may be more like a jungle gym. Workers can move in all sorts of directions: upward, downward or sideways. They can also remain in the same place or jump on and off as needed.

That’s why mentors and coaches are useful. A mentor can provide useful advice to help you navigate your way through the workplace, especially if you favor remote work.

Related link: The Great Resignation: Transforming the Lives of US Workers

What Is Mentoring?

Mentoring involves a building a relationship between two individuals who share a common characteristic. Mentors can be work-related or personal. They can form relationships organically or the relationships can occur through prescribed programs where both parties agree to work together. 

National Mentoring Month – A Good Time to Seek a Mentor

National Mentoring Month is an event held each January to promote youth mentoring in the United States. First started in 2002, National Mentoring Month is spearheaded by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR National.

So if you are looking to change a position, start a new career or move to remote work, a mentor may be the key to making this move. Making a career move can be beneficial for more reasons than just seeking to increase your salary.

But how do you choose a good mentor? Here are a few tips:

  1. Take some time to observe your mentor. If you and your mentor share the same passion for volunteering, for example, observe how that person works with others. Does this person have a personality that you can work with? Is that mentor a leader in his or her field? What do others say about the mentor’s ethics and overall image?
  2. Look for someone who has enough time to mentor you. You may need to interact with your mentor on a certain frequency that may or may not align with the mentor you choose.
  3. Interview your mentor. To start, ask questions and solicit your mentor’s advice on small, menial tasks. If the advice is sound and beneficial to you, consider moving toward a more established relationship. Selecting a poor mentor can be a costly mistake, so it’s important to choose wisely.
  4. Seek a mentor with a wide variety of experiences. If your mentor is a carbon copy of yourself, chances are you will receive limited guidance if you have 100% of the same goals and shared values. Diverse perspectives often help you look at situations in different ways, so seek a mentor who has diverse experiences and perspectives to compliment your skillset and thought process.
  5. Define the terms of the relationship. Mentoring can be a temporary relationship or lifelong. It’s important to establish ground rules so you both understand how the process will work.
  6. Seek an experienced mentor. While some mentors excel in a particular area, mentoring takes time and skill. Ask your mentor who they mentored in the past and how that relationship evolved over time.
  7. Find an impartial mentor. Finding such a person is easier said than done. We all have personal motives, which drive our thoughts and actions. Likewise, a mentor can provide you with poor advice if they have something to gain from your decision or choice. Seek a mentor who can provide you with unbiased counsel and guidance.
  8. Celebrate the little achievements. You want a mentor who can incrementally steer you toward success. Ideally, set both small goals and large goals, develop objectives, and celebrate accomplishments. Accomplishments can be large or small, and your mentor should be able to celebrate your achievements along the way to your ultimate goal.
  9. Distinguish between a coach and a mentor. While both can help you as you pursue success, a career coach is a more structured formal agreement, usually by an industry-certified professional who holds routine meetings at a standard cost. A mentor is more informal and can provide the same benefits, but a mentor is usually someone who volunteers their time at no cost.
  10. Seek both formal and informal mentoring. Some organizations have structured mentoring programs, and some mentor relationships grow organically. Both can be productive roadmaps. The key is to find someone who has the time, energy, and insight to motivate and mentor you toward your goal.

Establishing a vision for your career is one thing, but often achieving career goals takes insight and ingenuity. So whether you are seeking remote work or looking for a personal or professional change, an established mentor can be an asset to achieving your goals. They can utilize their previous experience to help you navigate through the workplace and stay focused on making your dreams a reality.

Dr. Kandis Y. Wyatt, PMP, is an award-winning author, presenter, and professor with nearly 30 years of experience in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STE(A)M). She is the creator of the Professor S.T.E.A.M. Children’s Book Series, which brings tomorrow’s concepts to future leaders today. A global speaker, STE(A)M advocate, and STE(A)M communicator, she holds a B.S. in Meteorology and an M.S. in Meteorology and Water Resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She is a faculty member in Transportation and Logistics for the Wallace E. Boston School of Business and specializes in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in transportation, education, and technology.

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