Discovering the power of mentorship can help unlock your professional potential. Finding a leader who you admire and tapping their experience and perspectives will help you define goals and shape your career. Mentorship combines trust, encouragement, and honesty to help people find their authentic voices and define their leadership styles.
Regulatory compliance manager Melissa Sanchez and senior quality manager Maria Ana Leal matched as part of the Women Leaders of Abbott business resource group mentoring program. Both women work at the Barceloneta manufacturing site in Puerto Rico and say what was first a professional relationship is now a lasting personal connection.
Doing the Work
Sanchez, who is also a certified professional development coach, received advice early in her career to take ownership of her development. She took it to heart.
"Having someone to share their experience and knowledge at the same time they advise in my own path has been a differentiator in my career journey," Sanchez said. "When I had the opportunity to be part of the Women Leaders of Abbott program, it was a no brainer. As a new employee at the time, it was a great opportunity to learn from a leader with a different background, area of expertise and nationality."
Organized and intentional, Sanchez wanted to make the most of the time she had with her new mentor. She advises new mentees to prepare before every meeting by sharing an agenda and writing questions so you can work on defining goals and outlining next steps.
"Even though Maria was super open to help me, ultimately it's my development and it's important that I take the ownership of that," Sanchez said. "The worst thing would have been if we had talked, and I took no action — and then nothing happened."
3 Key Factors
There are three actions needed for a successful mentoring relationship:
- Outline goals. Consider what you both hope to achieve from the relationship, including how mentoring will enhance the individual’s performance as well as business outcomes.
- Establish a meeting cadence. Regular meetings with solid agendas, whether it’s once a week, once a month or once a quarter, help keep goals on track and determine next steps.
- Define metrics. Measurable outcomes provide insight into the mentoring relationship’s impact, especially for the mentee’s goals and business performance.
A successful mentoring relationship works well for both parties, regardless of experience.
"I learned so much from Melissa and from the process itself," Leal said. "While we tend to talk a lot and not listen to what another person needs, this experience taught me how to listen. It also showed me how much I can bring to the table and help others succeed."
Making the Most of Mentoring
For Sanchez, there were multiple benefits to having Leal as a mentor.
"The relationship I built with Maria was one of trust where I felt comfortable to share my thoughts openly, without judgement," Sanchez said. "This gave me the confidence to bring my best self to work, which means I now 'raise my hand' and share my ideas and perspectives more often."
Their conversations included discussing ways Sanchez could connect her interests outside of engineering to create a career path that capitalizes on all her skill sets. Leal’s guidance, advice and network helped Sanchez build and present "Road to a Great Career: Customize your Development Plan," a series of workshops designed for the Puerto Rico Women Leaders of Abbott chapter.
"This was an opportunity that I may not have had without Maria's encouragement and help," Sanchez said.
Leal makes a point to provide connections — and context — across Abbott.
"I try to provide Melissa visibility, by helping her understand the Abbott business holistically, across our many functions," Leal said. "Because Melissa was fairly new in the organization, it was essential to connect her with Abbott's global vision and opportunities within our organization."
When a mentor shares their experiences — from successes and failures to potential roadblocks and possible shortcuts — mentees gain invaluable, and free, career coaching. Mentorship not only advances your career, but it also expands your network and offers perspectives and connections you didn't expect.