Could a Mentor Be Right for Your Team?

Could a mentor help your team members clarify their career paths?

Helping the members of your marketing team map out their career trajectories is important—but it’s also difficult to do in a field that’s evolving quickly and exists without a clear linear path. The Associate-Manager-Director trail remains in few companies today. There are roles in marketing for generalists, specialists, managers, and high-level individual contributors. How can marketing managers help their teams make sense of all the options? Hiring a career coach or mentor is one option to consider.

The role of a career coach or mentor: A career coach or mentor is an outside consultant or expert who understands your field and can assess each employee’s situation independently. As an independent person, he or she can work to understand opportunities within your organization and then help employees map a path to get them there. For example, should an employee consider going back to school, take a targeted training, or push themselves by taking on larger responsibilities?

Should you hire a coach? One area managers may struggle with is hiring and retaining talent. Increasingly, top marketing talent wants access to an environment that fosters their growth. Your managers can be involved, but it’s not feasible for them to map out individual growth plans for every employee in the organization. Getting a coach involved can ensure you are providing the support needed to guide your best talent on their professional journey with your firm.

What should you look for? As a marketing leader, look for a coach who understands the marketing space. A general career coach is going to be of limited use. A strong alignment between a coach’s expertise and your team’s areas of interest will help ensure you get maximum return on your investment.

Help the coach succeed: To get the most out of your coach, here are some basic ground rules to ensure the relationship is a success:

  • Help them understand your organization and your team’s makeup.
  • Encourage them to leverage the resources you make available, such as training, tuition reimbursement, or internal management training programs.
  • Set clear boundaries on the kinds of interactions that are appropriate. For example, you could ask the coach not to recommend leaving the company as a career path but instead to find a different role within the organization if an employee is unhappy.
  • Establish a budget and schedule. How often will this person meet with each team member and for how long? What do the deliverables look like?

Creating a professional growth path for your team—and for each individual member—is time-consuming. Gain the advantage by hiring a coach who understands the marketing space, and bring him or her on board to provide personalized guidance for your team.